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IgorKrupnik, Rachel Mason, 
and Tonia Norton, editors 


Perspectives from Circumpolar Nations 

Mist hangs over the abandoned Sdmi summer camp at Kvcenangsfjellet mountain, Norway. 

|\jorthern h n ogra p h i c 

perspectives from (^j'rcum polar Nations 


Published by the 

Arctic Studies Center, 

National Museum of Natural History, 

Smithsonian Institution 

Washington, D.C. 

In collaboration with 

The National Park Service 

© 2004 by the Arctic Studies Center, National IVIuseum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution 
Washington, D.C. 20560-0112 
All rights reserved. 

ISBN 0-9673429-7-X 

Library of Congress Cataloging-ln-Publication Data 

Northern ethnographic landscapes : perspectives from circumpolar nations / Igor Krupnil<, Rachel Mason, and 
Tonia W. Norton, editors. 

p. cm. — (Contributions to circumpolar anthropology ; v. 6) 
Includes bibliographical references and index. 
ISBN 0-9673429-7-X (alk. paper) 

1. Ethnology— Arctic regions. 2. Human geography— Arctic regions. 3. Landscape assessment— Arctic regions. 
4. Landscape protection— Arctic regions. 5. Environmentally sensitive areas— Arctic regions. 6. Arctic 
regions— Environmental conditions. I. Krupnik, Igor. II. Mason, Rachel, 1954- III. Norton, Tonia W. (Tonia Woods) 
IV. Series: Contributions to circumpolar anthropology ; 6. 

GN673.N67 2004 
306'. 091 1 '3-dc22 


oo The paper used In this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard For Information 
Sciences— Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39. 48-1 992. 

This publication was supported by a grant from the National Park Service, Alaska Regional Office. 

Technical Editor: Thetus H. Smith 
Cover design: Raissa Macasieb-Ludwig 
Series design: Anya Vinokour 
Production editor: Elisabeth Ward 
Printed In Canada. 

This publication Is Volume 6 in the Arctic Studies Center series, Contributions to Circumpolar Anthropology, produced by the 
Arctic Studies Center, National Museum of Natural Nistory, Smithsonian Institution. 


Cover: Cape Espenberg, Alaska. During the last 6,000 years, storm surges and winter winds sculptured sands deposited from offshore 
currents into the beach ridges of Cape Espenberg on the southern shore of Kotzebue Sound, Alaska. The cape was inhabited by 
the Pittagmiut, a group of North Alaskan Ihupiat people in the 19th century. In late May or early June the entire population 
of 400 people would be located along the cape hunting for bearded seals in the offshore ice. The long expanse of coastline from 
the cape to the current community of Deering is known as Saniniq, meaning "shallow ocean. " National Park Service Photo. 

PUBLISHED BY; Aralc Studies Center, National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution 

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List of Figures 

William W. Fitzhugh 

Igor Krupnik, Rachel Mason, and Susan Buggey 

fart O 


part ~]~wo 

1 7 







State Policies: Perspectives from Four Arctic Nations 

Susan Buggey 

Rachel Mason 

Tonia Woods Horton 

Ingegerd Holand 

Pavel M. Shul'gin 

Protecting the "Invisible": Stories from the Arctic Zone 

Andrew Wiget and Olga Balalaeva 

Galina P. Kharyuchi 

Donald G. Callaway 


Igor Krupnik 


Herbert Anungazuk 


Susan W. Fair 


Elisabeth I. Ward and Arthur Bjorgvin Bollason 


Anita Maurstad 

fart T'liree 

Regional Approaches to Documentation and Protection 


Thomas D. Andrews 


Tonia Woods Horton 


Natalia V. Fedorova 


Torvald Falch and Marianne Skandfer 

fart r 

our Comparative Perspectives 


Claire Smithe and Heather Burke 


Ellen Lee 

407 INDEX 



Thomas Andrews has conducted research in the 
northern Yukon and in the Canadian Northwest Territo- 
ries since the late 1970s. His many publications in- 
clude articles on Aboriginal land management systems, 
community-based resource management in the North- 
west Territories, local cultural landscapes, ethnoarchae- 
ology, and sacred sites. Since 1990, he has worked at 
the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, in 
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, where he currently 
holds the position of Territorial Archaeologist. 

Herbert O. Anungazuk is an Inupiaq from Wales, 
Alaska. Since 2003, he has worked as a Cultural An- 
thropologist for the Cultural Resources Team of the 
National Park Service in Anchorage, Alaska. Before 
that, beginning in 1993, he was a Native Liaison and 
Heritage Specialist with the NPS Alaska Office. His 
knowledge of liiupiaq language and culture, along with 
traditional skills acquired from elders over decades, 
facilitate his work as a researcher, liaison and inter- 

Olga Balalaeva is a researcher in folklore and eth- 
nology of the Peoples of the North and in Finno-Ugric 
Studies. She has served as Senior Scientific Researcher, 
Folklore Department, A.M. Corky Institute of World Lit- 
erature, and as scientific consultant to State Committee 
of the North and the Arctic Science Committee of the 
Russian Federation. She has been engaged in field- 
work among the Khanty since 1 988. 

Arthur Bjorgvin Bollason was Director of the Saga 
Centre, Hvollsvollur, Iceland in 1 999-2003. After com- 
pleting Master's degree research in Germany, he be- 

came the Icelandic radio's national correspondent for 
German affairs, was a researcher at the Arni Magnusson 
Institute, and will be the co-chief editor for a new Ger- 
man translation of the Complete Saga of the Iceland- 
ers. A sometimes television host, poet, and tourist guide, 
he now works for Icelandair in Germany. 

Susan Buggey has been active in research, evalua- 
tion, and writing on cultural landscapes for 25 years. 
Former Director of Historical Services for Parks Canada, 
she is now an Adjunct Professor in the School of Land- 
scape Architecture at the Universite de Montreal in 
Monreal, Canada. She writes extensively on landscapes 
associated with the history of Aboriginal peoples and 
the associative values of cultural landscapes. 

Heather Burke has over thirteen years experience 
as a consultant archaeologist, working in New South 
Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern 
Territory. Her particular skills are in the fields of site 
recording and significance assessment, for both histori- 
cal and Aboriginal archaeological sites, the assessment 
and recording of standing structures and mining heri- 
tage, and the interpretation and presentation of heri- 
tage sites. She has authored several publications on 
Aboriginal archaeology in Australia. 

Donald C. Callaway is the Senior Cultural Anthro- 
pologist in the Alaska Regional Office of the National 
Park Service. He has conducted fieldwork and research 
in rural Alaska for the last 19 years and, over the last 
decade, in the Russian Far East. A cultural anthropolo- 
gist by his training, he also held post-doctoral fellow- 
ships in statistics at DC Berkeley and in health issues at 

the Institute on Aging and Oregon Health Sciences in 
Portland, Oregon. His primary fields of interest include 
applied anthropology, formal methods, network analy- 
sis, and oral histories. 

Susan W. Fairv^as a folklorist and Native art histo- 
rian; she conducted independent research and wrote 
extensively on Alaska Native art and culture. Her rela- 
tionship with the Ihupiat village of Shishmaref, in North- 
west Alaska, was particularly close. In the 1 970s and 
early 1 980s, she was a certified appraiser of Native 
American and Alaska Native art. In Alaska, she curated 
several prominent installations of Native art and eth- 
nographic collections. At the time of her death in 2003, 
she held a joint teaching/research appointment at the 
University of Arizona Tucson. 

Ton/aid Falch is Deputy Director General, Depart- 
ment of Environment and Cultural Heritage, Sami Parlia- 
ment of Norway in Vuonnabahta (Varangerboten), 
Norway. He has a Masters' degree in political sciences 
from the University of Oslo and he has worked for the 
Sami Parliament's Department of Cultural Heritage since 
1 994. He is responsible for the management and docu- 
mentation of Sami cultural sites and landscapes in Nor- 
way, as well as for the general political liaison in ac- 
tions concerning cultural heritage, biological diversity, 
sustainable development, and environmental issues. 

Natalia Fedorova is Senior Research Fellow at 
the Institute of History and Archaeology of the Urals 
Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 
Ekaterinburg, Russia. Since 2003, she is also Deputy 
Director of the Museum and Exhibit Center in Salekhard, 
Yamal. Her recent studies are focused upon the prehis- 
toric cultures of the West Siberia boreal forest and Arc- 
tic zone, medieval and antique metal artwork, and 
culture contacts in Central (Inner) Eurasia. She authored 
six books and more then fifty papers on West Siberian 
archaeology and art history. 

William W. Fitzhugh is Director of the Arctic Stud- 
ies Center and Curator at the Department of Anthropol- 
ogy, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian 
Institution, in Washington, DC. His interests include pre- 

history and environmental archaeology, maritime ad- 
aptations, and culture contacts. He has organized sev- 
eral special exhibit projects, such as Inua (1 982); Cross- 
mads of ContinentsO 988); MnuO 999); and Vikings(2000). 

Ingegerd Holand works as Adviser on Sami (Saami) 
cultural heritage and resource management at The Nor- 
wegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Riksantikvaren) 
in Oslo, Norway. She was born in Kvaenangen, North- 
ern Norway, in a Coastal Sami comunity, and is an ar- 
chaeologist by profession, educated in Tromso as well 
as in London. Her research and work has previously 
included both mainstream Scandinavian archaeology 
and Sami archaeology, while her present job involves 
responsibility for all Sami monuments, including land- 
scape preservation. 

Tonia Woods Hotton is a landscape architect and 
ethnohistorian. She was the first manager for the Cul- 
tural Landscapes program in the Alaska Region, Na- 
tional Park Service, from 1998 to 2004. She directed 
projects through Alaska's fifteen national parks with a 
special focus on ethnographic landscapes. She holds 
degrees in landscape architecture, and in American In- 
dian and environmental history. Currently she is an 
assistant professor of landscape architecture at Penn- 
sylvania State University. 

Calina P. Kharyuchi is senior researcher at the Cen- 
ter for Humanitarian Research on Indigenous Minority 
Peoples of the North in Salekhard, northern Russia. 
She was born to a Nenets reindeer-herding family in 
the Gydan tundra along the Arctic coast of West Sibe- 
ria. She graduated from teacher's college and worked 
for several years as an educator in her native area, prior 
to becoming professional ethnographer. She has a de- 
gree in history and anthropology, and she writes exten- 
sively on indigenous nations of West Siberia and her 
native tundra Nenets people, in particular. 

Igor Krupnik, Arctic ethnologist at the Arctic Stud- 
ies Center, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, 
is currently coordinator of various international projects 
studying the impacts of global climate change and the 
preservation of cultural heritage, and ecological knowl- 



edge of northern Native people. He writes extensively 
on Arctic peoples and he is the general editor of the 
Smithsonian Contributions to Circumpolar Antler opology 

Ellen Lee is Director of the Archaeological Services 
Branch of Parks Canada, an organization responsible 
for the national parks and national historic sites pro- 
grams of Canada. She has written on a range of topics 
related to cultural landscapes and the commemoration 
of Aboriginal history in Canada, and maintains an inter- 
est in the overlapping of cultural and natural values for 
protected area management. Her most recent publica- 
tion is "Managing the Intangible" (co-authored with A. 
English), in 7/ie Full Value of Parks and Protected Areas: 
From Economics to the Intangible (2003). 

Rachel Mason is a cultural anthropologist with the 
National Park Service, Alaska Regional Office. She has 
worked in Alaska since 1986, most extensively in the 
Kodiak Archipelago and the Aleutian Islands. Prior to 
her current employment at the NPS, she worked as a 
technical advisor to the Federal Subsistence Manage- 
ment Program for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 
Her research interests include Alaska Native cultures, 
subsistence, and commercial fisheries. 

Anita Maurstad has performed research on small- 
scale fishing in northern Norway since the late 1980's. 
She has a doctorate in resource management, and her 
publications focus on culture and knowledge manage- 
ment in small-scale fisheries, paying special attention 
to its interaction with science and fisheries manage- 
ment. Formerly a research associate by the Norwegian 
College of Fisheries Science since 1997, she is now 
associate professor at Troms0 Museum, Department for 
Contemporary Cultural History. 

Pavel M. Shul'gm is Deputy Director of the Russian 
Research Institute for Cultural and Natural Heritage in 
Moscow, since 1 992. His research interests include vari- 
ous issues in economic, legislative, and regional de- 
velopment that relate to the conservation and use of 
heritage resources in Russia. His numerous publica- 
tions have advanced the concept of the so-called 

"unique historical territories," that is, regions, for which 
heritage preservation should be regarded as a top eco- 
nomic and social priority. 

Marianne Skandfer has a Ph.D. in archaeology from 
the University of Tromso. She is currently a post-doc- 
toral fellow at the University of Tromso in Troms0, 
Norway. Her research interest is in north Fenno- 
Scandian archaeology, including Stone Age, early ce- 
ramics, and the emergence of Sami ethnicity. Between 
1997 and 1999 she worked as an executive officer in 
the Department of Sami Cultural Heritage in the Sami 
Parliament in Norway. 

Claire Smith is a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at 
Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia. Her main re- 
search focus is on archaeological field methods and 
on Indigenous archaeology. She has conducted field- 
work in the Barunga region of southern Arnhem Land 
since 1 990, and has on-going excavation projects in 
the Barunga region, Northern Territory and in Burra, 
South Australia. Her major publications include the co- 
edited volume Indigenous Cultures in an Interconnected 
World (2000) and the authored book. Country, Kin and 
Culture. Survivalof an Aboriginal Community {m press). 

Elisabeth I. Ward is a graduate student at the Uni- 
versity of California, Berkeley, Scandinavian Studies 
Department. Drawing on her maternal Icelandic heri- 
tage, Elisabeth has actively pursued her interest in the 
Icelandic language and culture. After completing a 
Master's degree in Anthropology at George Washing- 
ton University, she became Assistant Curator and Co- 
editor for the Smithsonian Institution millennial exhi- 
bition, Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga, a position she 
held from 1998 until 2003. 

Andrew Wiget is professor and Director of the New 
Mexico Heritage Center at New Mexico State Univer- 
sity. He has been involved in cultural conservation 
work and land claims cases with Native American tribes 
for twenty years. Since 1992, he has partnered with 
Olga Balalaeva in conducting ethnographic field re- 
search and engaging in applied work among the Khanty 
of western Siberia. 

ist of fjVures 

Title: Mist hangs over the abandoned Sami summer camp at Kvaenangsfjellet mountain, Norway ii 

1/ Mt. Drum in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska xiv 

2/ Traditional houses and ritual constructions at the abandoned Masik site, Chukchi Peninsula, Siberia. xvi 

3/ Ezogokwoo ('bones of Ezo's people'), a Dogrib sacred place and the site of a major battle, Canada 14 

4/ Map of landscapes important to the history of Aboriginal peoples in Canada 18 

5/ Bear Rock, on the Mackenzie River, Northwest Territories, Canada 21 

6/ Mortuary or memorial poles in the village of Nan Sdins on SCaang Gwaii Island, British Columbia 23 

7/ Paallirmiut drum dancing, near the community of Arviat, Nunavut 25 

8/ Nagwichoonjik, the Mackenzie River, Northwest Territories 27 

9/ Deline fishery, at the mouth of the Great Bear River, Northwest Territories 29 

1 0/ Kwikati or 'Tence Narrows Lake", on the Idaa Trail, Northwest Territories 33 

1 1/ A campsite at Sahyoue (Grizzly Bear Mountain), Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories 35 

1 2/ The Kazan River at Piqqiq, Nunavut, in the land of the Harvaqtuurmiut 37 

1 3/ View of Denali Mountain (Mt. McKinley), in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska 47 

14/ Eilson Road in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska 48 

1 5/ Chief Deaphon and his Athapaskan band that was associated with Denali National Park, 1919 51 

16/ Map of Federal Lands in Alaska 53 

1 7/ Map of State of Alaska Game Management Units and Federal Wildlife Management Units 54 

18/ Map of Ten Alaskan regions represented by Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils 55 
19/ Telida, an Upper Kuskokwim Athapaskan village and a subsistence communtiy for Denali National Park 59 

20/ Map of Sami settlement areas in Scandinavia, with the estimated number of Sami living today . 83 

21/ Old Coastal Sami communities of Sorstraumen and Nordstraumen in Northern Troms, Norway 89 

22/ Reconstructing a traditional Sami turf house (gamme) at Nordstraumen, northern Norway 91 

23/ The old church at the island of Skorpa in Kvaenangen, northern Norway 93 

24/ Typical post-World War II farm buildings at Saltnes in Kvaenangen, northern Norway 95 

25/ The sacrificial stone (Graksesteinen) at Mortensnes in Varanger, Finnmark, northern Norway 97 

26/ Map of Sami sites in Northern Norway discussed in the text 98 

27/ The site of Hjemmeluft/Jiebmaluokta in Alta, Finnmark, northern Norway 99 

28/ The Eastern Sami site of Skoltebyen in Neiden, Finnmark, northern Norway 1 01 

29/ Ostyak (Khanty) mother and daughter, at their family camp, 1911. West Siberia 1 1 5 

30/ Visiting the Kayukov Family Camp, 1 999. Salym River, West Siberia 1 1 5 

31/ Traditional Khanty storage structures at Aidar Yourts, Salym River, 191 1 117 

32/ Khanty storage structures (ambars) at Punsi Yourts, Salym River, 1 999 1 1 7 
33/ Khanty herders build smoky log cabins to protect their reindeer from mosquitoes in summer time, 1 999 1 1 9 

34/ Khanty wood grouse trap near Punsi Yourts, Salym River 121 

35/ Putik, a wooden path through the marshes to pastures and fishing sites, Salym River 1 23 

36/ Two Yamal Nenets men making sacrifice at the Khagen-Sale sacred site, Yamal, West Siberia, 1928 1 28 

37/ Map of The Middle Ob River Basin, West Siberia 1 33 



38/ Aerial view of the Bolshoi Yugan River Basin, West Siberia 1 3 5 

39/ Map of sacred sites of the Yugan Khanty area, 1998 1 36 

40/ Destroyed sacred hill, Imi Yaoun, and Khanty sacred site on the Trom-Agan River, West Siberia 1 3 7 

41/ Map of Vassily Kaimysov's hunting territory, Yugan River basin. West Siberia 1 38 

42/ Map of Proposed Yugan Khanty "Protected Territory of Traditional Land Use" 1 39 

43/ Forested high places in swamps, called 'islands,' are often sacred sites 143 

44/ Cultural heritage site with sacred wooden cabins {labas) at Lake Larlumkina, Bolshoi Yugan River 1 47 

45/ Khanty caretaker, Yefim Kolsomov, at one of the Khanty sacred sites. West Siberia 1 51 

46/ Area populated by the Nenets people in Arctic Russia and the area of the Cudan Tundra Nenets 1 5 7 

47/ Galina Kharyuchi during her winter field survey 1 58 

48/ Active Nenets sacred site in Southern Yamal, 1996 1 59 

49/ Nenets children at an abandoned oil rig site 1 61 

50/ Nenets sacred site at Cape Tiutey-Sale, Yamal, 1928 1 63 

51/ Nenets herders work on the map of traditional sacred sites, summer 2001 1 69 

52/ Nenets reindeer herders from the Cydan Peninsula, 2000 1 71 

53/ Traditional Nenets sacred site on Yamal Peninsula, 1928 1 73 

54/ Sunset on the Yukon River, Alaska 1 79 

55/ Eagle Bluff, Alaska, known to the local Han Athapaskan people as "Water hitting right in to it" 1 83 

56/ ATV trail through a meadow in bloom, Alaska 1 85 

57/ Map of the Lower Noatak River basin, with the boundaries of Cape Krusenstern National Monument 1 86 

58/ Map of the present-day land-status owners, Seward Peninsula, Alaska 1 87 

59/ Ahtna place-names plotted on computerized map 1 88 

60/ Graph of annual subsistence cycle for the community of Tetlin, Alaska 1 91 

61/ Alaska Native caribou hunt 1 93 

62/ Mentasta caribou herd density dependent model 1 94 

63/ Aerial view of Cape Chibukak, with the Sivuqaq (Cambell) Mountain, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska 205 

64/ Henry Collins' map of ancient sites at Cape Chibukak, St. Lawrence Island, 1937 207 

65/ St. Lawrence Island women and children, in front of their traditional house, 1 889 209 

66/ Gambell's landscape as of summer 1930 21 1 

67/ Men are wrestling at Qellineq, traditional village public space in Sivuqaq/Gambell, 1912 213 

68/ Map of Sivuqaq/Gambell area and major local place names, by Willis Walunga, 2001 21 5 

69/ Traditional sacrificial site at the outskirts of Sivuqaq/Gambell, 1930 21 7 

70/ Beach area in Gambell, with summer tents and winter houses, 1889 21 9 

71/ Section of the "old village" in Gambell, 2001 221 

72/ The view of the old Siqluwaghyahget site, destroyed by "subsistence digging," 2001 223 

top Susan Wilhite Fair (1948-2003) 228 

73/ Susan Fair and Edgar Ningeulook interview Gideon and Fannie Barr in Shishmaref, Alaska, 1993 229 

74/ Northwestern shore of Seward Peninsula, Alaska - the Saniq-Saniniq coastline 2 32 

75/ Early Ifiupiaq map of the Saniq-Saniniq afreadrasNn in Wales, Alaska, 1 902 2 33 

76/ Watercolor of the Messenger Feast, or Wolf Dance, 1902 235 

77/ The village of Shishmaref in the late 1 920s. 2 37 

78/ House in Shishmaref hangs precariously over the bluff created by the severe storm, 1997. 2 39 

79/ Shishmaref boats gather on the open Chukchi Sea during spring hunting in 1 987 241 
80/ Members of Shishmaref Traditional Council, who saved the village from the influenza epidemic of 1918 243 

81/ The village of Shishmaref in 1983 245 

82/ The fish- and berry-picking camp near Shishmaref, 1998. 247 

83/ Open treeless landscape allows for expansive view towards Trihyrning Mountain, southern Iceland 2 57 

X 1 

84/ Drawing of Gunnar meeting his wife Hallgerdur by A. Bloch, reproduced as a postcard, 1929 2 59 

85/ Map of Iceland and distribution of Njal's Saga sites 261 
86/ Gunnarsstein (Gunnar's stone), believed to be associated with Gunnar's fight, in Rangarvallasysia, Iceland 263 

87/ Highway signage of Njaluslod, southern Iceland 265 

88/ American tour group at Hof, southern Iceland, August 2001 267 
89/ Tour guide relates the story of the death of Gunnar at Gunnar's farm, HIidarendi, southern Iceland, 2001 269 

90/ Icelandic tour group at Dimon, southern Iceland, August 2001 271 
91/ Bergthorshvol, the site where Njal and his family were burned alive, is the last stop on the tour, 2001 273 

92/ Fishing village Kj0llefjord, Finnmark, northern Norway 279 

93/ Small-scale fishing in the near-shore seascape of Lyngenfjord, northern Norway 281 

94/ Storms at sea create special challenges, and opportunities, for fishermen 285 

95/ Small-scale fishing vessels resting in Tromso on their way to the Finnmark fishery 291 

96/ Big Rock near Mesa Lake, NWT, Canada, believed to be associated with the Dogrib chief Edzo 298 

97/ Map of Northwest Territories, showing indigenous communities and land claims areas 302 

98/ Map of significant places and sites, NWT, Canada 304 

99/ Drum Lake, Mackenzie Mountains, a Mountain Dene sacred site, NWT, Canada 305 

100/ A Dogrib hunter prepares to butcher a bull moose 307 

101/ Bear Rock, at the confluence of the Bear and Mackenzie Rivers, NWT 31 1 

102/ A Dogrib elder teaches two youth how to clean a large lake trout 31 3 

103/ Dogrib elder examines archaeological remains of a birchbark canoe 31 5 

104/ Kweedoo (Blood Rock) sacred site, at the confluence of the Bear and Mackenzie Rivers, NWT 31 7 

105/ Relocated Tlingit grave marker at Dyea Cemetery, Southern Alaska 327 

106/ Tlingit village at Healy and Wilson's Trading Post, Dyea, 1897 329 

107/ Tlingit village, KhartHeenee [Gal-hi-r\i], "Salmon Water, " 1889 335 

108/ Nenets herders visiting the Yarte site archaeology camp in Central Yamal, Siberia 345 

109/ Nenets domestic reindeer grazes at the Vary- Kh adyta- 2 site 349 

1 1 0/ Khalmer, traditional Nenets burial site. West Siberia 351 

111/ The Tiutey-Sale site, long considered a remain of "Eskimo type" culture on Yamal Peninsula, Siberia 353 

1 1 2/ Remains of a traditional Sami goahti (turf house) and protected farm buildings, northern Norway 359 

1 1 3/ Remains of a traditional Sami goahti ('turf hut') for goats, Devddesvuoppmi, Inner Troms, Norway 361 

1 1 4/ Frame of a recent Sami summer herding tent, lawo in 0verbygd, Inner Troms, Norway 363 

1 1 5/ Bj0rnesteinen ("The Bear stone") in Ceavccegeadgi/Mortensnes, northern Norway 365 

1 16/ Fireplace at a Sami reindeer herding camp at Devddesjavri, Inner Troms, northern Norway 367 
1 1 7/ Ancient Sami grave at Gaparas/Klubben represents a continual tradition from 2000 BC to AD 1600 369 

1 18/ Pre-Christian Sami grave in Veidnes, Unjarga/Nesseby municipality, northern Norway 373 
1 1 9/ lyat, or Serpentine Hot Springs, a place of healing and spiritual renewal for Ihupiat of Northwest Alaska 376 

120/ Indigenous women's dreaming site, near Barunga, Northern Territory, Australia 385 

121/ Luma Luma, a female ancestral being from Northern Australia 388 

1 22/ Wakulyarri Tjukurrpa (Rock Wallaby). Aboriginal painting 390 

123/ Untitled acrylic on canvas painting, by Barunga artist, Paddy Babu, 1992 391 

1 24/ Reindeer herders tent (choom) at the camp site on the Yamal Peninsula, West Siberia 406 


a reviations 


Alaska Department of Fish and Game, USA 


American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA 


Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act, 1971, USA 


Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, 1 980, USA 


Arctic Studies Center, Department of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 


All terrain vehicle 


Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C, USA 


Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 1 996, Canada 


Commemorative Integrity Statement, Canada 


Cultural Landscape Inventory, National Park Service, USA 


Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Canada 


Cultural Resource Management 


Ethnographic Research Inventory, US National Park Service 


Exxon Valdez oil spill, USA 


Geographic Information System 


Geographic Positioning System 


Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada 


International Labour Organization 


Indigenous Land Use Agreement, Australia 


Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat 


Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area, Russia 


Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, 1 990, USA 


National Historic Park, USA 


National Historic Preservation Act, 1 966, USA 


NatioanI Historic Site, Canada 


National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, USA 


National Park and Preserve, USA 


National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior 


Northwest Territories, Canada 


Russian Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the North, Russia 


Russian Research Institute for Cultural and Natural Heritage, Moscow, Russia 


Traditional Cultural Properties 


Traditional Ecological (Environmental) Knowledge 


United States Fish and Wildlife Service 


United States Geological Survey 


Western Arctic Caribou Herd, Alaska 

X i i i 

1/Mt. Drum in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska. The Ahtna Athapaskans living in this area called this 12,01 0-foot 
peak "Upriver K'elt'aeni. " Nearby Mount Sanford is Downriver K'elt'aeni, while Mt. Wrangell is simply K'elt'aeni. Many 
Athapskans tend to render all directions as "upriver" or "downriver. " The name K'elt'aeni seems to mean 'The One That 
Controls," apparently referring to the weather. 



Today, few scholars would question the importance 
of "landscape" as an integrating concept in understand- 
ing cultural traditions. Landscape approaches have been 
applied for several decades in European and North 
American scholarship. In American anthropology, land- 
scape theory has been influenced strongly by Julian 
Steward's concept of cultural ecology and more re- 
cently by increasingly integrative approaches combin- 
ing environmental studies, ecology, history, and an- 
thropology. More recent movements toward under- 
standing ethnographic landscapes are being fostered 
by growing collaboration between scientists and na- 
tive partners in studies of climate and environmental 
change, natural resource distribution, subsistence prac- 
tices, and many other topics having a geographic com- 
ponent. The extension of such studies into historical 
periods and the deep past and growth in scientific 
knowledge of paleoenvironments and effects of cli- 
mate change expand these frontiers still further. 

Native American groups, especially in North 
America, are playing an important role in advocating 
that these concepts of cultural and ethnographic land- 
scape be included into government programs and 
management policies. Nevertheless, it is encouraging 
to discover a government agency building such an 
idea into its management policy. Unlike other nations 
that have recognized the importance of culture (ad- 
mittedly, often a "national" culture, not always "cul- 
tures"), the United States has not had a distinguished 
record of heritage preservation in general or of cultural 
preservation in particular. Such themes have generally 
been relegated to museums, scholars, and private in- 
terest groups rather than governments. Therefore, I was 

delighted when Ted Birkedal of the Alaska Office of 
the National Park Service (NPS) expressed interest in 
having the Arctic Studies Center collaborate with the 
NPS to conduct a study of how the concept "ethno- 
graphic landscapes" was being utilized in scientific lit- 
erature and government policy in the circumpolar 
region.The Arctic Studies Center was familiar with how 
park systems operate among many arctic nations and 
was actively conducting research and educational pro- 
gram throughout this region. As the editors explain in 
their introduction, the initial idea was to provide a state- 
of-the-art overview that could be used by the NPS in 
their policy formation process. While it took us several 
years to design the study and identify partners, this 
publication represents the perspectives of specialists 
involved in key organizations and projects. The result 
is, of course, only a sampling of thought and practice 
as applied to the arctic and subarctic region. 

The Arctic Studies Center has been pleased to col- 
laborate with the National Park Service's Alaska Office 
in this effort by bringing together a body of new knowl- 
edge and practice in the field of heritage preservation. 
The inclusion of ethnographic and cultural landscapes 
as valuable elements of national heritage conserva- 
tion provides an important new opportunity for rec- 
ognizing the contributions of culture, ethnography, and 
the traditions of indigenous arctic residents; it also pro- 
vides an important perspective for understanding cul- 
tural similarities and differences around the globe. 

William W. Fitzhugh, Director 
Arctic Studies Center 

X V 

2/Masik site at the entrance to Mechigmen Bay, Chukchi Peninsula, Siberia. This ancient whaling settlement was abandoned 
around 1 950; but family visits, memories, and stories associated with the site keep the old landscape alive. 



Landscapes, perspectives, and jXjations 


The creation of this book is a remarkable story worth 
sharing with its readers. In the late 1 990s, the Cultural 
Resources office of the U.S. Department of Interior's 
National Park Service (NPS) in Anchorage, Alaska, con- 
sidered contracting a junior archaeologist or a gradu- 
ate student for a fairly standard service: producing an 
overview of the current literature and policy documents 
about cultural and ethnographic landscape preserva- 
tion in some northern countries. Money was available 
and the terms of reference were clear; nobody believed 
that it would take more than a few months to produce a 
50-60 page report for the agency's internal use only. 

The NPS' Alaska Regional Office was eager to look 
at other nations' policies on ethnographic landscapes 
for several reasons. By that time, several federal and 
state legislative actions, NPS-led initiatives pertaining 
to Native Americans' heritage and ancestral lands, had 
been adopted. Many collaborative projects with Na- 
tive communities were under way, both in Alaska and 
elsewhere in the United States. After several decades 
of protecting '"historic sites"~historic monuments and 
buildings, battlefields, archaeological ruins, and remains 
along pioneer trails— the NPS finally acknowledged 
the need to extend protective status to heritage places 
that may have, but equally may not have any visible 
traces of human activities. 

This recognition opened the way for a new vision 
of heritage preservation that was far more suitable to 
the Native American perspective. It included physical 

landscapes with great value to indigenous people, re- 
flected in their associated myths, stories, rituals, and 
spiritual practices. As a result, new terms, such as "his- 
toric properties," "tribal preservation," and "indigenous 
cultural (or ethnographic) landscapes" appeared on the 
Native American public agendas and in NPS documen- 
tation alike (cf. Parker 1 990; Stoffle et al. 1 997). In 1 990, 
the NPS institutionalized a distinct Cultural Landscapes 
Program that addressed serious inadequacies in national 
preservation policies, particularly affecting the lands 
that were of special value to Native Americans (see 
Norton, this volume). It was clear that this area would 
require innovative approaches in management and pro- 
tection. In fact, the new notion of 'ethnographic land- 
scapes' would become one of the most contentious 
policy issues for years to come. 

At the federal level, the Native American Graves 
Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1 990 sym- 
bolized a huge step in recognizing the cultural pres- 
ence of Native Americans on their ancestral lands and 
in requiring by law that all human remains and funerary 
items discovered on federal grounds be repatriated to 
associated tribes. Two years later, the 1 992 amendment 
to the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 
1 967 required that places significant to Native Ameri- 
cans be conserved with other culturally significant sites 
that are part of a diverse national heritage. In 1996, 
Executive Order 1 3007 explicitly protected Native 
Americans' access to their sacred sites provided under 


the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) of 
1978 (Mason, this volume). In Alaska, negotiations 
between the NFS and Russian park managers had been 
under way since the late 1 980s to establish a new joint 
"Beringia International Park" on both sides of the Bering 
Strait. Key among its many declared functions was the 
protection of landscapes, monuments, and the subsis- 
tence activities of indigenous people as well as their 
ties to the ancestral lands and their historical connec- 
tions to each other. The "Shared Beringia Heritage Pro- 
gram," established in 1 991 under the NPS Alaska office, 
offered strong support to such ties and connections 
through research, conferences, and cultural exchanges 
across the Bering Strait (Beringian Heritage 1989; 
Callaway 2003; Vdovin 1990). 

Those transitions in U.S. attitudes toward indigenous 
lands and landscapes went hand-in-hand or were often 
preceded by similar developments in Canada (Buggey 
1 999, this volume), Norway (Holand, this volume), and 
several other countries, particularly Australia and New 
Zealand. The crucial role of UNESCO cannot be over- 
estimated, notably since 1992, when it introduced the 
term "cultural landscapes" to its operational guidelines 
pertaining to the World Heritage Convention of 1972. 
It recognized them as "the combined works of nature 
and of man" and "the interaction between humankind 
and nature," and it officially acknowledged that "the 
protection of traditional cultural landscapes is . . . help- 
ful in maintaining biological diversity" (UNECSO 1 996x1. 
36-38). By 2002, about thirty cultural landscapes were 
inscribed on UNESCO's 'World Heritage List (Fowler 
2003:ch.3).' Scientific literature was bubbling up with 
new monographs, conference proceedings, and project 
reports, including three seminal international volumes 
on cultural landscapes published under the One World 
Archaeology senes (Carmichael et al. 1994; Smith and 
Wobst, in press; Ucko and Layton 1 999; see also Alanen 
and Melnick 2000; Bender 1 992; Feld and Basso 1 996; 
Hirsch and O'Hanlon 1995; Mitchell 1994; Thompson 
1995; Tilley 1994). At the same time, the NPS Alaska 
office supported several field programs aimed at docu- 

menting Native Alaskan oral traditions associated with 
protected landscapes around the prospective 'Beringia' 
Park and elsewhere across the state (Simon and Cerlach 
1991; Fair and Ningeulook 1994; Schaaff 1996; Fair, 
this volume; Callaway, this volume). New data and ex- 
pertise argued strongly in favor of shifting the NPS' 
focus toward ethnographic landscapes as the next cut- 
ting edge in its activities, particularly in the areas criti- 
cal to Native Americans' lives, history, and heritage.^ 

Despite all these factors and the establishment of a 
special "Cultural Landscapes Program" at the NPS Alaska 
office (which recognized ethnographic landscapes as a 
particular focus of its activities in 1 998), several gray 
areas remained. No clear instructions existed on how 
to deal with ethnographic landscapes and the associ- 
ated traditions of indigenous people, from the park 
management perspective. A tentative definition of what 
constitutes an "ethnographic landscape,"^ developed un- 
der the NPS guidelines, proved to be of limited man- 
agement value. National Register Bulletin 38 (Parker 
and King 1 990), part of a series that was so instrumental 
in developing the NPS cultural landscapes framework, 
offered little help, since its primary focus remained physi- 
cal landscapes. Anthropologists working with northern 
Native communities were quick to point to the whole 
spectrum of invisible indigenous legacies associated 
with ethnographic landscapes— myths, dreams, personal 
stories and names, place-names, teaching and initiation 
practices. Without Native people's participation, those 
legacies remained hidden to park managers and were 
not listed on their preservation mandates. Therefore, 
new expertise was needed and more information had 
to be collected to tackle the ethnographic landscape 
challenge, for both theoretical and practical purposes. 

A Book Project Emerges 

The initial idea of contracting with a student to do a 
brief in-house review was quickly abandoned, and the 
NPS opted to collaborate with the Arctic Studies Cen- 
ter (ASC) of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, 
D.C. By that time, the ASC was conducting its own 



heritage landscape studies and site surveys in Canada 
(Labrador), Alaska, and Russia (Yamal Peninsula in West 
Siberia). The ASC also had a long history of coopera- 
tion with the NPS, particularly with its Alaska office. 
Smithsonian anthropologists promptly suggested that 
the project be turned into an international venture and 
that it present authentic visions and voices from many 
northern nations besides the U.S., including Canada, 
Russia, and the Scandinavian countries. The appear- 
ance of a Parks Canada special report. An Approach to 
Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes (Buggey 1 999), with its 
trove of information on the Canadian approach to heri- 
tage landscape preservation, made such an idea even 
more appealing. 

For about a year the main vision for the study cen- 
tered on an international workshop, with speakers from 
several countries presenting their national policy pa- 
pers. In 2000, Igor Krupnik, the ASC ethnologist, intro- 
duced a new scenario for the project. Instead of a con- 
ference to be held in Washington, D.C. or Anchorage, 
Krupnik suggested producing an edited volume of in- 
vited papers written by scholars and managers from 
several northern nations. Such an international collec- 
tion of articles would be published jointly by the ASC 
(Smithsonian Institution) and the NPS. The main incen- 
tive to prospective contributors would be the potential 
to demonstrate a circumpolar diversity of perspectives 
and approaches to ethnographic landscapes in a single 
book. This approach positioned the U.S. -Alaskan heri- 
tage preservation policy as an important component (if 
not the key magnet) of the book, something not en- 
visioned under the original plan. The NPS gladly 
accepted this new vision. Two of its Alaskan ethnog- 
raphers, Rachel Mason and Donald Callaway, and the 
manager of the Alaskan NPS cultural landscapes pro- 
gram, Tonia Horton, agreed to write papers for the book, 
and Mason and Horton became its co-editors. Krupnik, 
was named the lead editor for the volume, and he went 
on trips to Russia (Fall of 2000), and to Norway and 
Canada (Spring of 2001 ) to look for possible authors. 

The response to a joint international volume on 

ethnographic landscape preser^/ation was overwhelm- 
ingly enthusiastic, even though most of the invited 
authors had never met and often had never heard of 
each other's work in the same field. By late 2002 the 
book's core had been assembled with contributions 
from the U.S., Canada, Russia, Norway, Iceland, and Aus- 
tralia (see below). Authors include park management 
specialists, heritage administrators and scholars, cultural 
anthropologists, and indigenous researchers (see Con- 
tributors list). It took two more years to complete the 
project and to produce this volume as a part of the new 
Smithsonian series. Contribution to Circumpolar Anthro- 
pology, published by the ASC. 

Indigenous/Aboriginal Approach to Landscape 

As has been asserted repeatedly, indigenous peoples 
in many parts of the world view landscapes in ways 
common to their experience but different from West- 
ern views on land, landscape, and historic heritage 
(Buggey 1999:1).'' Indigenous people view the rela- 
tionship between people and places in holistic and 
often openly spiritual terms, rather than seeing it pri- 
marily in terms of material interests and ownership/ 
property rights. This does not mean that they have no 
material interests in land and landscapes, or that their 
subsistence use of land and landscape lacks any no- 
tion of land ownership, based on tribal, clan, or family 
ties. The difference is, first and foremost, in the priori- 
ties that indigenous people put into their perspective 
on landscape— or, for that matter, the seascape, i.e., the 
waters they use or travel through. Most indigenous com- 
munities, particularly hunter-gatherers and herders, re- 
gard themselves as an integral part of the holistic and 
living landscape. Within this worldview, people are at 
one with the landscape, which also includes animals, 
plants, known and mythological ancestors, and various 
supernatural beings, like animal keepers, malignant spir- 
its, and non-empirical creatures. The spirits of all these 
entities inhabit the landscape, which— according to in- 
digenous views— is a multi-faceted and densely popu- 
lated place, well beyond humans' daily presence. 



Traditional aboriginal cosmologies similarly saw a 
relationship of the earth and sky, the elements, the 
dirertions, the seasons, the life species, and mythic trans- 
formers to the lands that people have occupied since 
ancient times. All those elements were also connected 
via journeys or paths through space and time that once 
were accessible to humans' mythological ancestors and 
that still are/were accessible to shamans and even to 
some ordinary people through dreams, initiations, or 
visionary revelations. In this perspective, land and land- 
scapes are revered in total as well as in specific physi- 
cal incarnations, such as mountains, lakes, rocks, stones, 
capes, trees, etc. Those physical incarnations are prima- 
rily, though not exclusively, regarded as places of con- 
nectivity, nodes of spiritual power, or markers of paths 
and journeys related to ancestors, shamans, animal spirits, 
or supernatural beings. 

This is, of course, a condensed and a bit idealized 
compilation of what may be called "aboriginal world 
views" (Buggey 1999:1-3). In reality, views on land- 
scape differ substantially from one group to another 
and also change through time. Even classical tribal eth- 
nographies of the nineteenth and early twentieth cen- 
turies often documented only fragments or traces of 
the elements of this generic complex. Introduced reli- 
gions, particularly Christianity, and later, modern edu- 
cation, also made huge inroads in indigenous perspec- 
tives in many northern areas; both contributed sub- 
stantially to the erosion of the old holistic visions 
(Krupnik and Vakhtin 1 997). Nevertheless, traditional 
knowledge in the form of myths, narratives, place- 
names, and ecological lore, bequeathed through oral 
tradition from generation to generation, has embod- 
ied and preserved indigenous people's relationship to 
the land, from the ancestral times to the present. Such 
a holistic view is often cited as a key in understanding 
indigenous conceptualization of the land, the land- 
scape, and its cultural resources (Stoffle and Evans 1 990; 
Stoffle et al. 1 997:232). Today's northern people differ 
greatly in terms of their individual knowledge and abil- 
ity to articulate their specific ties to the land; but they 

voice their unity with the land immediately when con- 
fronted with another view of the same landscape es- 
poused by resource and heritage managers, govern- 
ment people, and scientists. 

Besides their specific vision of the land and land- 
scapes, indigenous northern people have a particular 
view of history (cf. Buggey 1 999:3). Their approach to 
history is primarily through cosmology, narratives, ge- 
nealogies, and places— rather than through written 
records, fixed dates, and established time sequences. 
Elements of the land often become markers of time 
and of past events, particularly through place- names 
and associated stories that are remembered and trans- 
mitted to younger generations. Under this vision, the 
land is "like a book" to indigenous people (see Andrews, 
this volume); it is their most solid chronicle and a tribal 
register that unites group members through shared 
memories, residence, and affiliation. The land also acts 
as an ever-present teaching ground, a classroom to which 
the elderly and the learned bring the young and the 

With this in mind, we would like to endorse the 
following definition of indigenous "ethnographic land- 
scape" that was formulated earlier by one of the co- 
authors of this Introduction (Buggey 1 999:27): 

An 'ethnographic landscape [or 'aboriginal 
cultural landscape'] is a place valued by an 
Aboriginal group (or groups) because of their 
long and complex relationship with that land. 
It expresses their unity with the natural and 
spiritual environment. It embodies their 
traditional knowledge of spirits, places, land 
uses, and ecology. Material remains of the 
association may be prominent, but will often 
be minimal or absent. 

The key components to this definition— long and 
complex relationship between people and land; the 
idea of people's unity with both natural and spiritual 
environment; the expression of people's ties to the 
landscape primarily through their cultural knowledge; 
and the unimportance of material remains in support- 
ing such ties— are all critical indicators. They fuse into 
that which anthropologists call the "living group iden- 



tity," that is, a cognized feeling of today's cultural speci- 
ficity and belonging, actively transmitted within the com- 
munity and among the generations. We believe, this is 
the pillar in approaching indigenous cultural (ethno- 
graphic) landscapes, rather than the constructs com- 
monly used by heritage managers, such as "historic 
memory," "testimonies to past glory," "monuments of 
human creativity," "aesthetic values," and others. In many 
well documented cases, such a vision collided with the 
indigenous approach to land, landscape, and history— 
almost universally with great loss and harm to indig- 
enous people (cf. Keller and Turek 1998). Recently, 
however, the trend is gradually being reversed— whether 
the issue at stake is a claim to land-use or to specific 
resources, access to land for particular spiritual purpose, 
or a government-initiated designation of lands as wild- 
life sanctuaries, parks, or heritage areas. 

The concept of "northern wilderness" that had served 
for decades as the cornerstone for all approaches to 
landscape protection was the first to change its status, 
as illustrated by several chapters in this volume. Whether 
focused on the pristine nature of vast northern expanses 
or on "untouched" arctic ecosystems, it argued for north- 
ern lands to be protected for the purpose of nature 
preservation, or as the nation's treasure, or for the sake 
of future generations— that is, independent and irre- 
spective of its residents, northern peoples, as well as of 
their values, memories, traditions, and their current use 
of the land. While still popular with the broad public, 
some conservationist groups, and tourist agencies alike, 
the "northern wilderness" paradigm is quickly losing its 
appeal among parks- and heritage managers in many 
northern countries (see several papers in Catton 1997 
and Burks 1994, specifically Turner 1994; Muk and 
Byaliss-Smith 1 999; also chapters by Buggey, Callaway, 
Norton, Mason, Shul'gin, Ward and Bollason, Wiget and 
Balalaeva, this volume). 

The recognition of indigenous landscapes— via the 
score of new policies and projects described in this 
book— constitutes a milestone in this transition. The 
designation and protection of certain landscapes, be- 

cause of their specific cultural meaning to indigenous 
people, paves the way to a far more respectful and in- 
formed approach to aboriginal cultures and to the gen- 
eral heritage of all local peoples. It applies to every 
northern nation whose preservation practices are de- 
scribed in this book. It also elevates the status of ab- 
original views on landscape and land-human relation- 
ships to the sphere of legislative actions, management 
instructions, budget allocations, and daily work of the 
respective governmental agencies. As heritage manag- 
ers, scholars, cultural anthropologists, and citizens, we 
applaud such a transition. 

The Structure of the Volume 

As chapters of this volume were gradually taking shape, 
it became clear that the book would address three dif- 
ferent perspectives, or levels, in northern ethnographic 
landscape preservation. The first level analyzes what 
may be called "national doctrines": the established of- 
ficial approaches and management systems of individual 
polar countries, like Canada, the U.S., Russia, and oth- 
ers. This represents a view from the top, a reflection of 
the general ideology that is usually developed and 
espoused by the main national preservation agency or 
associated research institutions. At the opposite end of 
the spectrum is a specific bottom view that comes from 
the "foot soldiers" in the trenches, such as park manag- 
ers and researchers, engaged in particular local pro- 
grams or projects. Those local experiences illustrate 
the true diversity and on-the-ground realities that are 
often hard to grasp from major national policy docu- 
ments. Finally, the middle stands for a regional per- 
spective in management that comes from local hubs 
and regional agencies, and is shaped by decades of 
accumulated practical studies and management deci- 
sions. It also represents unique blends of local histo- 
ries, administrative politics, and population mixtures 
typical of each major northern region. 

Most of our authors have worn several hats during 
their professional careers, and each person has his or 
her heartfelt story about ethnographic landscape re- 



search or management to share. No individual chapter 
in this volume, therefore, speaks for only one particu- 
lar "beast". Still, we found it useful to group the papers 
along national, local, and regional lines, and to orga- 
nize the book in three main sections, according to 
those major visions. 

Part 1 : State Policies from Four Arctic Nations 

Part One is made up of five papers. Arranged geographi- 
cally, each paper represents a nation: Canada (Susan 
Buggey), the U.S. (Rachel Mason and Tonia Norton), 
Norway (Ingegerd Holand), and Russia (Pavel Shul'gin). 
Altogether those four countries cover almost eighty- 
five percent of the circumpolar land area. We regret our 
lack of information on ethnographic landscape poli- 
cies in Greenland, Sweden, and Finland; a paper by 
Elisabeth Ward and Arthur Bollason (see below) at least 
partially represent the situation in Iceland. The two pa- 
pers covering heritage landscape preservation in Alaska 
comes from the realities of the U.S. National Park Ser- 
vice system that recognizes "cultural landscapes" and 
"ethnographic landscapes ' as two separate programs. 
Similarly, the two institutionalized visions on heritage 
landscapes in Norway are represented by the main gov- 
ernmental heritage agency, Riksantikvaren {Ho\ar\6, this 
section), and by the Sami Parliament (Falch and Skandfer, 

Part 2: Protecting 'The Invisible": Ethnographic Land- 
scape Stories Across the Arctic Zone 

Part Two is made up of seven chapters, which follow a 
thematic, rather than a geographic, progression. They 
illustrate the richness and variety of local ethnographic 
landscapes; each paper describes a specific research, 
documentation, or a local management effort. 

The section starts with ethnographic landscapes 
having the greatest physical visibility of human traces 
on the ground, such as material constructions built for 
subsistence activities in the boreal marshland areas of 
West Siberia (Andrew Wiget and Olga Balalaeva) or at 

indigenous ritual sites across the Siberian tundra used 
by nomadic reindeer herders (Calina Kharyuchi). It moves 
to a more complex overlap of indigenous and mana- 
gerial perspectives on protected landscapes in Alaska 
(Donald Callaway), with their conflicting intertwinement 
of uses, boundaries, markers, and regimes. A different 
mixture is presented by the story of a complex multi- 
layer heritage landscape of a contemporary Native com- 
munity, the village of Sivuqaq/Gambell on St. Lawrence 
Island, Alaska (Igor Krupnik). Here, the overlapping traces 
of earlier ethnographic landscapes are engrained both 
in remains and in human memories stretching back to 
the past The section progresses to even more intan- 
gible markers of human presence on the land, such as 
Native place-names from the Seward Peninsula in North- 
west Alaska (Susan Fair), and to virtual heritage land- 
scapes re-created by projecting medieval Icelandic saga 
stories onto the twenty-first century terrain (Elisabeth 
Ward and Arthur Bollason). In the two latter cases, the 
ethnographic landscape barely exists beyond the hu- 
man mind; it is being created and transmitted by the 
sheer power of community memory and its adherence 
to the ancestors' traditions. The last paper presents the 
most extreme case of "invisible" heritage landscape, 
almost beyond today's park managers' imagination. It 
deals with the purely mental constructs of ocean fish- 
ing grounds and "seascapes" of the ocean bottom off 
the coast of northern Norway (Anita Maurstad). These 
products of generations of accumulated fishermen's 
knowledge are both the most elusive and the hardest 
types of "scapes" to manage, as they literally cease to 
exist at the moment the fishermen leave the place. 

Part 3: Regional Approaches to Ethnographic Land- 
scape Documentation and Protection 

Part Three has four chapters, which are, again, orga- 
nized geographically to cover Canada, U.S., Russia, and 
Norway. In this section the authors present more tar- 
geted regional reviews peppered with individualized 
experience from the ongoing heritage landscape pro- 




grams in the Canadian Northwest Territories (Tom 
Andrews), in two Alaskan National Parks (Tonia Norton), 
in the Russian Yamal Autonomous Area, in northern 
West Siberia (Natalia Fedorova), as well as from the 
work of the Sami Parliament and of its former Sami 
Cultural Heritage Council on the protection of the Sami 
heritage landscapes in Norway (Torvald Falch and 
Marianne Skandfer). We believe that those four chap- 
ters, framed by years— often, decades— ^of their authors' 
involvement in local research and documentation/pres- 
ervation efforts, will be both illustrative and indicative 
of current trends across the circumpolar North. We hope 
that further writers and publishers explore this vast body 
of northern landscape management expertise that we 
cannot explore here beyond a few selected stories. ^ 

Part Four and Epilogue 

The final section offers our readers a look at heritage 
landscapes preservation outside the northern polar zone. 
In a book about northern landscapes, we had space for 
just one compelling perspective from outside the Arc- 
tic—a paper about the management of aboriginal heri- 
tage landscapes and seascapes in Australia (Claire Smith 
and Heather Burke). We believe that the Australian ex- 
perience is particularly relevant to heritage manage- 
ment in the North, not only because the Australians 
pioneered the idea of indigenous heritage landscapes, 
but also because so much in Australian indigenous 
landscapes is about 'invisible' elements such as myths, 
dreams and 'dreamlands,' place-names, ancestral jour- 
neys, story-scapes, and knowledge initiation rites. 

The volume concludes with an Epilogue by Ellen 
Lee, Director of the Archaeological Service Branch of 
Parks Canada. Her remarks review some of the many 
institutional hurdles and bottlenecks in heritage land- 
scape preservation and in carrying the message out to 
the general public and to policy-makers. It reiterates 
the key line of every chapter in this volume that points 
to partnership with northern aboriginal communities as 
the best strategy to better document and to protect 

the invisible heritage of their lands. 
Lessons and Messages 

As always, the edited chapters and the final printed 
volume represent only a fraction of what has been as- 
sembled and reviewed during our project. As we pe- 
rused the many paper drafts, agency reports, and sec- 
ondary literature, several themes emerged as common 
experiences from across the northern regions. In the 
final section of this Introduction, we want to share a 
few critical lessons we learned through this process. 
We also consider these points as our key messages to 
park managers, researchers, and to general readers in- 
terested in the issues of northern ethnographic land- 
scapes policies, preservation, and documentation. 


Our first message is that there is a common understand- 
ing among researchers and managers in many northern 
countries about what constitutes an etiinograplnic land- 
scape. But neither a good working definition nor a prac- 
tical management approach transcends the boundaries 
of the respective nations. Landscape scholars and man- 
agers quote each other's policy documents and papers 
actively, but their daily operations take place in the 
legal and administrative spaces of their respective na- 
tional systems. Of the four national approaches reviewed 
in our volume— those of Canada, the U.S., Norway, and 
Russia— two national systems (the U.S. and Russia) use 
the term "ethnographic landscape," whereas two other 
systems (Canada and Norway) stick to the term "cul- 
tural landscape" instead, with the added terms "aborigi- 
nal" and "Sami," respectively. This demonstrates that 
true convergence of policies and approaches is still far 
ahead of us, if ever attainable, given the diversity of 
peoples, traditions, politics, and histories across the cir- 
cumpolar zone. 

In every northern country landscape managers and 
scholars now agree that the preservation of "ethno- 
graphic landscapes" is of critical importance to its Na- 



tive residents. In the long run, it may be as crucial to 
the continuity of their cultures and identities as physi- 
cal access to ancestral lands, in terms of subsistence 
activities, mobility, and use of traditional resource and 
community sites (Parker 1990). However, little public 
understanding and a great deal of managerial discord 
exist about what actually constitutes an indigenous "eth- 
nographic landscape" and how such a landscape can 
be protected. 

One may argue that there is only a minor semantic 
difference between the American vision of "ethnographic 
landscape" and the Canadian "aboriginal cultural land- 
scape," and that the more distinctive Norwegian and 
Russian definitions fall more or less within the same 
realm. But the seemingly minor semantic distinctions 
may conceal more important practical differences. For 
example, under the U.S. National Park Service, ethno- 
graphic landscapes are just one of /bwr recognized types 
of cultural landscapes (in addition to historic sites, his- 
toric designed landscapes, and historic vernacular land- 
scapes—see papers by Mason and Norton, this vol- 
ume). Ethnographic landscapes, defined herein by the 
MPS as "containing a variety of natural and cultural 
resources that associated people define as heritage re- 
sources," are clearly perceived as a combination of cer- 
tain valuable resources that have to be identified, listed, 
and protected. The NPS' Ethnography Program, how- 
ever, uses a different definition that presents an ethno- 
graphic landscape as "a relatively contiguous area of 
interrelated places that the members of contemporary 
social groups define as meaningful because it is inex- 
tricably and traditionally linked to their own local or 
regional histories, cultural identities, beliefs, and be- 
haviors." Under that vision, the focus is upon certain 
"contiguous areas" and places that must be, similarly, 
identified and protected. 

Canada's definition sees a cultural landscape as "any 
geographical area that has been modified, influenced, 
or given special cultural meaning by people" (Parks 
Canada 1 994:1 1 9). In contrast to the U.S. definition, 
it stresses the role of human impact upon the land- 

scape. Within this wide scope, it generally follows 
the anthropologically-inspired typology of the 
UNESCO World Heritage Convention (UNESCO 1996, 
cl.39). Common grounds are quite obvious; but one 
has to have extensive insider knowledge to grasp the 
practical differences. 

Though accepted in their respective management 
systems, those definitions are but a starting point. They 
co-exist with several other related terms that some- 
times offer a more instrumental perspective, such as 
"sacred landscape" (Carmichael 1 994), "sacred sites" 
(Balalaeva 1 999), "sacred places" (Kelley and Francis 
1 994), "spiritual (or ceremonial) lands," "spiritual geog- 
raphy" (Griffith 1 992), "symbolic landscape" (Burley 1 991 ; 
Schanche 1 995), "ancestral lands," "holy lands" (Spicer 
1957), "holy grounds" (Schlee 1990), "storyscapes" 
(Stoffle et al 1 997), and others.'' They also lack a func- 
tional aspect indicative of the specific origin or uses of 
an ethnographic landscape. Every typology has certain 
gray areas of ambiguity; some authors argue that all 
socially relevant landscapes are symbolic and histori- 
cal (Cosgrove 1989; Ingold 1991). 

Definitions inevitably have limited operational value 
and have to be elaborated by specific identification 
guidelines that address the distinctive qualities of dif- 
ferent types of landscapes. In terms of implicit guide- 
lines for identifying and especially for managing ar- 
eas that could be labeled ethnographic versus other 
recognized types of cultural landscapes, much work 
is urgently needed. We cannot offer a plausible re- 
sponse to this challenge, besides pointing out that vari- 
ous symbolic landscapes have an interwoven and even 
conflicting history, and that flexibility, openness, and 
consultations are the best tools in dealing with "virtual 
realities," such as ethnographic landscapes. 


Although both the title of this book and the various 
policy and management systems it represents feature 
the terms "lands" and "landscapes," the real subject is, 
in fact, knowledge. It is the human knowledge about 



the landscape, preserved and transmitted by its resi- 
dents (or, often, former residents), that gives its magic 
touch to northern lands and waters. Verbalized human 
tradition transforms the vast and mostly unpopulated 
arctic areas with no signs and street markers, or a terrain 
dotted with anonymous archaeological remains, into 
meaningful cultural space. 

We believe that such an explicit focus on human 
knowledge and tradition is critical in developing poli- 
cies regarding ethnographic landscape preservation. 
Unlike a physical landscape, an ethnographic landscape 
is alive and meaningful as long as it is supported by 
viable and accessible cultural knowledge. In a reverse 
statement, the extinction of cultural knowledge associ- 
ated with a certain landscape returns it to the status of 
wilderness or makes it an empty land with barely seen 
remnants of former occupation. 

We would argue that in practical managerial terms it 
is, therefore, as important to preserve and support the 
knowledge about the land (through documentation, 
education, and other heritage efforts) as it is to estab- 
lish a vigorous protective regime for the land itself. A 
compelling example comes from the fishermen's knowl- 
edge of seascape (Maurstad, this volume). When the 
fishermen are gone, and their knowledge of bays, cur- 
rents, ocean floor, and specific fishing sites is lost, the 
age-built cultural seascape reverts back to the "wild" 
ocean or is reduced to a nautical chart. There would be, 
in fact, nothing more to protect than lighthouses and 
fish stocks. 

The focus on human knowledge, rather than on the 
land or landscape itself, offers new prospects for long- 
term preservation and even for a restoration of certain 
ethnographic landscapes. Indeed, knowledge preserved 
in writing or orally within the present or former resi- 
dential community may bring new life to the old cul- 
tural landscape. Old knowledge is the only path to 
restore cultural value to the landscape that has lost its 
original meaning for its current residents and land man- 
agers. The unique preservation of early medieval oral 
histories (sagas) in Iceland helped revitalize "virtual 

ethnographic landscapes ' of the past and turn them 
to today's use for tourism and heritage education (Ward 
and Bollason, this volume). Therefore, today's invest- 
ment in documenting the knowledge related to north- 
ern ethnographic landscapes may be the best and the 
most sound policy to assure their continuity in the 


As many papers in this volume illustrate, documenting 
ethnographic landscapes is a collaborative process. 
There is a huge mental gap to bridge and a great dis- 
tance to cover between the offices of heritage preser- 
vation agencies (even those located in the northern 
regions) and the indigenous communities who created 
and maintained local ethnographic landscapes over 
generations. Here nothing can be done without true 
collaboration, mutual trust, and respect. Cultural sensi- 
tivity is crucial in approaching the most invisible as- 
pects of Native legacy related to ethnographic land- 
scapes and to people's bonds to their ancestral lands. 

Whereas heritage managers may address local com- 
munities directly and often do a thorough job in col- 
lecting knowledge about landscapes, we believe that 
three other groups of players are critical to this pro- 
cess. The first are respected indigenous experts, usu- 
ally elders. They embody local heritage and tradition, 
and they act as the most legitimate and authoritative 
spokespersons for their communities. Cultural anthro- 
pologists, with established ties to local groups and ex- 
tensive first-hand knowledge of their tradition, make 
up the second group. Local educators, particularly those 
from within the Native communities, are the third type 
of players. Their role in landscape documentation and 
preservation is absolutely critical, though greatly un- 
derestimated. Their main input is in formatting the 
knowledge of elders (and of anthropologists) into sto- 
ries and texts appealing to the younger generations of 
Native people, who will be the bearers and protectors 
of local ethnographic landscapes for decades to come. 

Through our personal experience— and more than 



ever, after this volume— we believe that no documen- 
tation and no protection of ethnographic landscapes 
can be successful without the full involvement of local 
communities. We regard this as the key message of our 
collective effort and we want it to be heard clearly by 
policy-makers, heritage professionals, and public alike. 


This Northern Ethnographic Landscapes volume is an 
outcome of collaboration between the NPS Alaska 
Regional Office in Anchorage and the Smithsonian Arc- 
tic Studies Center. This book would never have materi- 
alized if not for friendly guidance as well as the logisti- 
cal and financial backing of the NPS in Alaska. Within 
the NPS Alaska Regional Office we are especially grate- 
ful to Ted Birkedal, Cultural Resources Team Manager, 
and to Steve Peterson, Senior Historical Architect. They 
developed the initial concept of a report on interna- 
tional practices in northern ethnographic landscapes 
documentation and they have supported the project 
through every stage of its implementation. Donald 
Callaway, Senior Cultural Anthropologist, was our NPS 
project liaison. At the Smithsonian, William W. Fitzhugh, 
the ASC Director, was always a source of friendly en- 
couragement and insight; Stephen Loring and Aron 
Crowell shared their knowledge and offered good ad- 
vice. We thank you all. 

Several more people were instrumental in intro- 
ducing prospective contributors, sharing their exper- 
tise, and providing other forms of support. In Alaska, 
we are grateful to Judy Gottlieb, the NPS Associate 
Regional Director for Subsistence and Partnerships, in 
Anchorage; and to Leigh Selig, then Assistant Superin- 
tendent, Western Arctic National Parklands, in Nome. 
In Canada, we thank Ellen Lee and Helene Chabot at 
Parks Canada in Ottawa; Norman Hallendy in Carp, 
Ontario; and Rick Armstrong at the Nunavut Research 
Institute in Iqaluit, Nunavut. In Norway, we received 
great support from Ole Gron at the Norwegian Institute 
for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) in Oslo; Audhild 
Schanche at the Nordic Sami Institute and Alf Isak 

Keskitalo at the Guovdageaidnu Municipal Museum in 
Kautokeino; Bjornar Olsen and Henry Minde at the 
University of Tromso in Tromso; Terje Brantenberg and 
Ivar Bjorklund at the Tromso Museum, Tromso. In Rus- 
sia, Krupnik's trip to Salekhard in fall of 2000 was sup- 
ported by the Science Department of the Yamal Area 
administration, and was facilitated by Natalia Fedorova, 
Sviatoslav Alekseev, and Aleksei Zen'ko. 

While working on this volume, we lost one of its 
most devoted contributors, the Alaskan folklorist and 
art historian Susan Fair, who passed away in 2003. We 
are fortunate that Susan's colleague, Herbert Anungazuk 
from the NPS Alaska Office, graciously prepared a trib- 
ute to Susan's legacy for this collection. 

We are grateful to many colleagues who kindly of- 
fered their photos for section and text illustrations. These 
visual contributions by Thomas Andrews (Yellowknife, 
Canada), Sergei Bogoslovskii (Moscow, Russia), Donald 
Callaway and Thetus Smith (Anchorage, Alaska), David 
Dector (Jerusalem, Israel), William Fitzhugh (Washing- 
ton, D.C.), Ingegerd Holand (Oslo, Norway), and John 
Hood (Harrow, UK) are very much appreciated. 

Our special thanks go to the volume's editorial and 
production team. Thetus H. Smith, our style- and tech- 
nical editor from the NPS Alaska Office, was instrumen- 
tal in bringing individual papers into one consistent 
format for the volume. Georgene Sink in Anchorage 
assisted with translation of the Russian papers, and Cara 
Seitcheck and Katherine Rusk in Washington offered 
their editorial skills. Elisabeth Ward and Iris Hahn-Santoro 
at the ASC and Bryan Hood in Tromso assisted in trans- 
lation and editing of Torvald Falch and Marianne 
Skandfer's paper, delivered in Norwegian. We thank 
Elisabeth Ward, our volume production editor (now at 
Berkeley); Kathleen Paparchontis, who prepared the In- 
dex for the volume; and Raissa Macasieb-Ludwig, who 
prepared the illustrations for the book. 

Finally, we salute all our volume contributors. Our 
common journey, from the outset of the project to the 
printing of the book, took several years to accomplish. 
We would never have made it if not for their enthusi- 



asm, patience, and comradeship that helped coalesce 
many individual studies in several languages and coun- 
tries into a collective vision on ethnographic landscapes 
preservation across the circumpolar North. 


1 . As of 2002, 29 cultural landscapes have been 
nominated from 23 countries (World Heritage Con- 
vention 2002). As of this writing, there were 1 5 sites 
officially registered as "cultural landscapes" and two 
sites listed as "archaeological landscapes," in addi- 
tion to 23 "mixed" properties (of which most feature 
"outstanding cultural values") on the overall list of 
788 "world heritage properties" (http:// ). 

2. This turned out to be the right prediction, as 
the issue of indigenous ethnographic landscapes 
became the key theme for the 29"^ Annual Meeting 
of the Alaska Anthropological Association in An- 
chorage in 2002 (titled "Lands, Landscapes and Land- 
marks") as well as for "WAC-5," the 5* World Archaeo- 
logical Congress in Washington, D.C. in 2003. 

3. According to the NPS definition, an ethno- 
graphic landscape is a landscape that contains "a 
variety of natural and cultural resources that associ- 
ated people define as heritage resources. Examples 
are contemporary settlements, religious sacred sites 
and massive geological structures. Small plant com- 
munities, animals, subsistence and ceremonial 
grounds are often components" (Birnbaum 1994:2; 
Hardesty 2000:1 82; see also chapters by Mason and 
Norton, this volume). 

4. The literature on the issues of indigenous 
worldviews and landscapes is indeed enormous. The 
most commonly quoted sources include Basso 1 996; 
Berkes 1 999; Brody 1 981 ; Frey 2001 ; Kelley and Francis 
1 994. For the Northern indigenous people see Fienup- 
Riordanl 994; Haliendy 2000; Kari and Fall 1 987/2003; 
Kawagley 1 995; Nelson 1 986; Nelson et al. 1 982; Tan- 
ner 1979. International collections, with extensive bib- 
liographies include Feld and Basso 1996; Grim 2001; 
Hirsch and O'Honlon 1 995; Irimoto and Yamada 1 994; 
Mills and Slobodin 1994. 

5. Again, we regret that the limits of our vol- 
ume prevent us from presenting regional data from 
other northern countries as well as from other areas 
within the four nations covered in the book, like 
Nunavut in Canada (Haliendy 2000; Heyes 2002), or 
Chukotka in Russia, for which a lot of information is 



6. See also specific northern/Arctic terms, such 
as 'memoryscapes' (Nuttal 1 991 ), 'culturescapes' (King 
2002), 'visioscapes' (Sejersen 2004). One could ar- 
gue that some of these terms refer to different levels 
of aboriginal ethnographic landscapes and, thus, may 
be organized typologically, if not hierarchically. For 
an attempt to produce such an hierarchy of cultural 
(ethnographic) landscapes of Southern Paiute people 
of the Grand Canyon area see Stoffle et al. 1997. 


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1994 Landscape and Power. Chicago: University of 

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1994 A Phenomenology of Landscape. Places, Paths 

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3/ Ezogokwoo ('bones of Ezo's people'), a sacred place and the site of a major battle between the Dogrib and a 
neighbouring group, Northwest Territories, Canada. 


/\n /Approach to /Xborigina! 
(^uiturai Landscapes in (panada 


Indigenous peoples in many parts of the world view 
landscape in ways common to their experience and 
different from the Western perspective of land and 
landscape. The relationship between people and place 
is conceived fundamentally in spiritual terms rather 
than primarily material terms. Many indigenous people 
consider all the earth to be sacred and regard them- 
selves as an integral part of this holistic and living 
landscape. They belong to the land and are at one in it 
with animals, plants, and ancestors whose spirits inhabit 
it. For many, places in the landscape are also sacred, as 
places of power, of journeys related to spirit beings, of 
entities that must be appeased. Laws and gifts from 
these spirit beings shaped the cultures and day-to-day 
activities of Aboriginal peoples in Canada's North. Inti- 
mate knowledge of natural resources and ecosystems 
of their areas, developed through long and sustained 
contact, and respect for the spirits that inhabit these 
places, molded life on the land. Traditional knowledge, 
in the form of narratives, place names, and ecological 
lore, bequeathed through oral tradition from genera- 
tion to generation, embodies and preserves the rela- 
tionship to the land. Landscapes "house" these stories, 
and protection of these places is key to their long-term 
survival in Aboriginal culture. 

In Canada's North, Aboriginal peoples have occu- 
pied the harsh, varied environment for millennia. A 
diversity of historical experience across time and 
place, as well as differing current situations, marks the 
relationships of people with the region. Today Indi- 
ans, Inuit, and Metis comprise approximately fifty 

First Nations, speaking predominantly Athapaskan 
and Inuktitut in about sixteen different languages. 
The area is divided politically into three territories; 
Yukon in the west, Northwest Territories in the cen- 
ter, and Nunavut in the east. Aboriginal rights and 
settlement areas are defined by comprehensive land 
claims agreements negotiated between Aboriginal 
peoples and the federal government and based on tra- 
ditional use and occupancy of lands. Provisions in each 
claim differ. Agreements concluded in the past decade 
include chapters relating to environment, heritage, 
and cultural resources that provide part of the plan- 
ning context for national historic sites (Lee 1997). 
The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, es- 
tablished in 1991, examined the relationship between 
Aboriginal peoples and Canadian society in general, 
including government, over time and throughout the 
country. Its massive report (Canada 1 996) articulated 
Aboriginal worldviews, traditions of knowledge, is- 
sues, and recommendations that have situated, or placed 
in context, subsequent considerations of Aboriginal heri- 
tage. The Supreme Court of Canada decision in the 
Delgamuukw case (1 997) marked legal acceptance of 
Aboriginal oral history related to a group's traditional 
area along with wider implications for Aboriginal 
rights related to land ownership. 

To recognize the values of Aboriginal cultural land- 
scapes (Fig. 4) and to commemorate these places, iden- 
tification and evaluation have to focus on Aboriginal 
worldviews, rather than on those of non-indigenous 
cultures of Western civilization and Western scientific 

1 7 

tradition. In Canada, national heritage falls under the 
purview of the Minister of the Environment. The minis- 
ter is advised on the identification of national historic 
significance by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board 
of Canada (HSMBC), a statutory body composed of 
representatives of the ten provinces, three territories, 
and three national heritage agencies. Parks Canada, a 
federal government agency reporting to the Minister 
of the Environment, administers the program of national 
historic commemoration. Historically, the history of Ab- 
original peoples has been underrepresented in its Na- 
tional Historic Sites system, but it is now one of the 
priority themes. For a decade, an ongoing dialogue 
involving many parties has been exploring ways to 
address this neglected aspect of Canada's history. By 
1997-98 the HSMBC had specifically identified the 
need for an appropriate framework based on "nature, 
tradition, continuity, and attachment to the land [. . .] as 

the defining elements in determining historic signifi- 
cance" and on "considering groups for commemora- 
tion [and] focusing on the importance of place to 
the Aboriginal group" (HSMBC Minutes July 1998). 
This paper focuses on Canada's North, but it derives 
from a national context (Buggey 1 999). It situates 
Aboriginal worldviews and place in relation to the 
field of cultural landscapes and to national historic 
site designations related to the history of Aborigi- 
nal people. Various aspects were explored with about 
fifty people, who include Parks Canada; provincial 
and territorial staff in all parts of the country; con- 
sultants with extensive experience in working with 
Aboriginal communities; and Aboriginal people in 
umbrella organizations and various other positions. 
The paper presents guidelines that Canada has de- 
veloped for the identification of Aboriginal cultural 
landscapes of national historic significance. 

4/ Some landscapes important to the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. 

SGaang Gwaii 



Bear Rock 


Deline ^ 
Fishery ridaa Trail 

Hay River 
Mission Sites 


Buffalo Jump 




Some Landscapes Important to the History 
of .Aboriginal Peoples in Canada 

Fall Caribou 

Enukso Point 

Arvia'juaq and 

and Labrador 





Aboriginal Worldviews 

To understand the northern landscape requires an 
understanding of the related cosmologies. Aboriginal 
cosmologies relate earth and sky, the elements, the 
directions, the seasons, and mythic transformers to lands 
Aboriginals have occupied since ancient times. Guided 
by these cosmological relationships, many have cre- 
ation stories related to their homelands, and they date 
their presence in those places to times when spirit be- 
ings traversed the world, transformed themselves at will 
between human and animal form, created their ances- 
tors, and contoured the landscape. For the Beaver 
people of the subarctic, for example, the creation story 
focused on Muskrat, the diver who brought a speck of 
dirt from the sea bottom to the earth's surface, at a 
point that represented the coming together of trails 
from the four directions. It focused equally on Swan, 
who flew into the sky and brought back the world 
and the songs of the seasons. Transformed in vision 
quest from the boy Swan to culture hero Saya, who 
travels across the sky as sun and moon, he was the 
first man to follow the trail of animals and thus estab- 
lished the relationship between hunters and their game. 
Hunters slept with their heads to the east, the direc- 
tion of the rising sun, so that they might dream their 
hunt along the trail of the sun before they experienced 
it on the physical trail across the land (Ridington 
1990:69-73, 91-3). 

Certain places embody these cosmological con- 
texts. The stages of the journeys and exploits of cul- 
ture heroes, such as Yamoria and his namesakes of 
several groups through the Mackenzie Basin of the 
Northwest Territories, can be related to specific fea- 
tures in the landscape (Andrews 1990). These narra- 
tives vary from group to group, but their climax occurs 
at the same geographical point. Bear Rock on the 
Mackenzie River (Fig. 5), where the several features of 
the mountain and the archaeological evidence concur 
in long association. Many Dene regard Bear Rock as a 
sacred site, and its symbolic importance is reflected in 

its selection as the logo of the Dene Nation, which 
represents the relation between the Dene and Deneneh 
(Hanks 1 993). The Cwich'in cycle of stones of the trick- 
ster Raven records how the hollows in the landscape 
known today at Tsiigehtchic in the Northwest Territo- 
ries are his camp and bed (Cwich'in Social and Cultural 
Institute 1 997:800-7). In northern Quebec, sites associ- 
ated with the travels of the giant beaver still in transfor- 
mation mode populate the demographically vacant map 
(Craikand Namagoose 1 992:1 7-2 U. 

Cosmological relationships and associations with 
spirit beings identif/ places of power, where the com- 
bination of spirits and place creates environments fa- 
vorable for spiritual communication. Identification of 
sites along two trails in the Dogrib landscape in the 
Northwest Territories, for example, differentiated five 
categories of sacred sites to which Dogrib elders ac- 
corded recognition: 

—Places where the activities of culture heroes are 
associated with landscape features; 

—Sites inhabited by giant, usually malevolent and 
dangerous, "spirit animals;" 

—Locations where the dreaming activities of cul- 
ture heroes intersected the landscape; 

—Places where important resources, such as stone 
and ochre, are found; 


Twenty sacred sites associated with culture hero 
Yamozhah and his exploits in making the land safe 
were identified along the Idaa Trail (Andrews et al. 
1 998:307-1 4; Andrews, this volume). 

The cosmological and mythological associations 
of sacred places and the continuing cultural relation- 
ship to the spirits and power of these places character- 
ize many landscapes important to Aboriginal people 
in Canada. Traditional knowledge relates contempo- 
rary cultures directly to traditional places. Social struc- 
ture, economic activity, language, rituals, and spiritual 
beliefs preserve cultural memory through intangible 
traditions related to place. Seeing places as markers 



of identity requires looking at them through the 
worldview and experience of the peoples associated 
with them. As the report Rakekee Cok'e Codi: Places 
We Take Care Of states, 

[o]ne of the most important themes in 
understanding Sahtu Dene and Metis history 
is the relationship between culture and 
landscape. Virtually all of Sahtu Dene and 
Metis history is written on the land. As such, 
the places and sites, which commemorate this 
relationship, are an integral part of Sahtu 
Dene and Metis identity (Sahtu 2000:1 4). 

Narratives and place names bequeathed from genera- 
tion to generation relate these spiritual associations 
directly to the land. 

The Sahtu Dene narratives create a mosaic of 
stories that envelop the cultural landscapes of 
Grizzly Bear Mountain and Scented Crass 
Hills. The web of "myth and memory" spread 
beyond the mountains to cover the whole 
western end of Great Bear Lake, illustrating 
the complexity of the Sahtu Dene's landscape 
tradition (HSMBC Minutes November 1996). 

The complexity and intensity of Aboriginal belief and 
tradition mark the continuous living relationship people 
have with the land, and the concept of "land" includes 
water and sky as well as earth. The interrelationships of 
people, animals, and spirits— as well as kinship and lan- 
guage attachments to place— are spiritual, mental, and 
emotional aspects of living with a particular environ- 
ment. Traditional life, rooted in intimate knowledge of 
the natural environment, focused on seasonal move- 
ment, which was patterned by movements of animals, 
marine resources, and the hunt. Uses and activities, from 
harvesting and social gatherings to rituals and ceremo- 
nies, are core expressions of relation to the land. Kin- 
ship, social relationships, and reciprocal obligations 
linked people in this complex round sustained for cen- 
turies. These defining attributes of Aboriginal peoples' 
attachments to land are more important to them than 
place as physical resource. 

The inter-connectedness of all aspects of human 
life with the living landscape— in social and spiritual 
relationships as much as in harvesting— continuously 

through time roots Aboriginal cultures in the land. A 
working definition declares that 

An Aboriginal cultural landscape is a place 
valued by an Aboriginal group (or groups) 
because of their long and complex relation- 
ship with that land. It expresses their unity 
with the natural and spiritual environment. 
It embodies their traditional knowledge 
of spirits, places, land uses, and ecology. 
Material remains of the association may 
be prominent, but will often be minimal 
or absent (Buggey 1 999:27). 

The associated people will not necessarily be only 
current occupiers or users of the land, but may also 
include those who have a historic relationship still sig- 
nificant to their culture, such as the Huron-Wendat of 
Quebec to the territory in southern Ontario that they 
left in the mid-seventeenth century. As well, other 
people than the associated group (or groups) may 
have used these landscapes and may attach values 
to them. 

Cultural Landscapes 

In identifying cultural landscapes of national historic 
significance, Canada follows UNESCO's approach. Af- 
ter nearly a decade of debate about the nature of cul- 
tural landscapes and their potential outstanding uni- 
versal value, in 1992 UNESCO's World Heritage Com- 
mittee, the administrative body for the World Heritage 
Convention, agreed that "the term 'cultural landscape' 
embraces a diversity of manifestations of the interac- 
tion between humankind and the natural environmenf 
(UNESCO 1996a:37). UNESCO's guidelines focus on 
this interaction between societies and the natural world 
that shapes the cultural landscape. In addition to this 
defining characteristic, it lists a tripartite categorization 
of landscapes: 

—The clearly defined landscape designed and cre- 
ated intentionally by man; 

—The organically evolved landscape: relict or con- 

—The associative cultural landscape. 
These provide an elementary identification of types as 



5/ Bear Rock, on the Mackenzie River, Northwest Territories, is the subject of important traditional teachings and 
a sacred site to the Dene people. 

aids in tlie identification of where values lie. The third 
type, the associative cultural landscape, is justified for 
inclusion on the World Heritage List "by virtue of the 
powerful religious, artistic or cultural associations of 
the natural element rather than material cultural evi- 
dence, which may be insignificant or even absent" 
(UNESCO 1 996a:39iii). Cultural landscapes associated 
with indigenous peoples are most likely to fit in this 

Associative cultural landscapes mark a significant 
move away from conventional heritage concepts rooted 
in physical resources, whether the monuments of cul- 
tural heritage or wilderness in natural heritage. They 
also accentuate the indivisibility of cultural 
and natural values in cultural landscapes. The 1995 
Asia-Pacific workshop on associative cultural land- 
scapes, held for UNESCO, elaborated on their essential 

Associative cultural landscapes may be defined 
as large or small contiguous or non-contiguous 
areas and itineraries, routes or other linear 
landscapes— these may be physical entities or 
mental images embedded in a people's spiritual- 
ity, cultural tradition and practice. The attributes 
of associative cultural landscapes include the 
intangible, such as the acoustic, the kinetic and 
the olfactory, as well as the visual (Australia 
ICOMOS 1995:4). 

Associative cultural landscapes are, then, defined by 
cultural values related to natural resources. The range 
of natural features associated with cosmological, sym- 
bolic, sacred, and culturally significant landscapes may 
be very broad: mountains, caves, outcrops, coastal wa- 
ters, rivers, lakes, pools, hillsides, uplands, plains, woods, 
groves, trees. While the physical resources are largely 
natural, cultural values transform these places from natu- 
ral to cultural landscapes. In language, narratives, sounds, 
ceremonies, kinship relationships, and social customs 



are found cohesive evidences of cultural meanings. 

The emergence of cultural landscapes as an inte- 
gral part of cultural heritage coincided with interna- 
tional recognition in the natural heritage community 
that areas long identified as pristine wilderness and 
celebrated for their ecological values untouched by 
human activity are the homelands of indigenous peoples 
and are shaped by long-term, sustainable human occu- 
pation. Their management of those landscapes has of- 
ten altered the original ecological system, but it has 
equally contributed to the biological diversity that has 
long been regarded as a prime value of wilderness 
(McNeely 1 995). Anthropologists and Aboriginal people 
working on traditional use studies and undertaking to 
reestablish cultural landscapes on the West Coast have 
applied this dilemma to ways of seeing west coast land- 
scapes: in contrast to the visitor and the scientist, who 
perceive wilderness in Cwaii Haanas (Fig. 6), the Haida 
people see their homeland, Haida Cwaii, rich with the 
historical and spiritual evidences of their centuries-long 

Defining cultural landscapes as "[a]ny geographical 
area that has been modified, influenced, or given spe- 
cial cultural meaning by people" (Parks Canada 
1 994a: 1 1 9), Parks Canada overtly recognizes cultural 
landscapes characterized by the intangible values that 
indigenous peoples attach to landscape. According 
heritage status to places with spiritual associations in 
the absence of material remains acknowledges human 
values crucial to the identities of these peoples. It is 
also explicitly accepted that the associated peoples 
identify such places and values. Most provinces have 
developed an approach to cultural landscapes (e.g., 
heritage/landscap.htm and Nova Scotia: http:// 
museum. 2/tl 2-2.htm). 
Both the provinces and the territories, however, have 
generally used an archaeological rather than a cultural 
landscape approach to the commemoration of Aborigi- 
nal heritage and have not designated places as Ab- 
original cultural landscapes. They recognize, though, 

that some designated sites, such as Writing-on-Stone 
Provincial Park in Alberta and White Mountain on Lake 
Mistassini in Quebec, have cultural landscape values. 
British Columbia's traditional use studies program (Brit- 
ish Columbia 1 996) and Yukon's address to Aboriginal 
values of place in its planning processes are examples 
of other approaches to recognizing cultural landscapes. 
Aboriginal decision-makers, as well, have their own 
approach, including toponymy for the management of 
symbolic values. 

National Historic Site Designations of 
Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes 

During the past thirty years, the Historic Sites and Monu- 
ments Board of Canada has recommended a number of 
places associated with the cultures of Aboriginal peoples 
for designation as national historic sites. The move- 
ment from viewing objects through perspectives of art 
history and archaeology, characteristic of the HSMBC's 
experience in commemorating Aboriginal history from 
the late 1960s through the 1980s, to seeing cultural 
landscapes associated with living peoples, mirrors the 
historiography of the various decision periods. As early 
as 1969, the board recognized the Inuksuit at Enusko 
Point, Baffin Island, Nunavut, as being of national sig- 
nificance. In keeping with the perspective of the time, 
it saw them primarily as archaeological artifacts, rather 
than holistically as part of a multi-dimensional cultural 
landscape (Stoddard 1 969). A range of other designated 
sites in several parts of the country reflects this scien- 
tific approach to the identification of values, which situ- 
ated them within the traditional scholarly disciplines of 
archaeology, history, or art history. Their scope, bound- 
aries, and significance were normally described by the 
archaeological investigations that had been carried out, 
sometimes accompanied by professional historical or 
ethnological studies; and their values were defined by 
such established criteria as the exceptional or outstand- 
ing example of a culture (Federal Archaeology Office 
1 998a, App. B). Limited scale often characterized them, 
as at the fish weir at Atherley Narrows (Mnjikaning) in 



Ontario or the mysterious Cluny Earthlodge Village in 
Alberta. Some sites were designated for their his- 
torical significance as defined by Canadian national 
history, such as Batoche for its role in the North West 
Rebellion/Resistance of 1885. Other places became 
national historic sites because of their cultural expres- 
sion as art, for example the Peterborough petroglyphs 
in Ontario or Nan Sdins, the Haida village in British 
Columbia. A few large sites, such as Port au Choix in 
Newfoundland and Debert/Belmont in Nova Scotia, 
were identified for their culture history, which was ana- 
lyzed through archaeological evidence, not through 
cultural associations. The practice of designating sites 
related to the history of Aboriginal peoples primarily 
based on archaeological evidence reflected standard 
approaches in the heritage community nationally and 
internationally. Since then, while there has been no 
move to diminish archaeological values, institutional 
standards have moved to ensure the participation of 
associated living communities in the identification of 
perspectives and values, as well as in the management 
of cultural landscapes. 

The Perspective of the / 990s 

Recognizing that the history of Aboriginal peoples 
was under-represented in the National Historic Sites 
system, in 1990-91 the board explored issues and a 
preliminary classification of sites related to the com- 
memoration of the history of Native people. That year 
the board recommended that 

sites of spiritual and/or cultural impor- 
tance to Native peoples, generally 
should be considered to be eligible for 
designation as national historic sites even 
when no tangible cultural resources exist, 
providing that there is evidence, garnered 
through oral history, or otherwise, that 
such sites are indeed seen to have 
special meaning to the culture in question and 
that the sites themselves are fixed in 
space (HSMBC Minutes February 1 990). 

Background papers identified that "from a 

6/ Mortuary or memorial poles in the village of Nan 
Sdins on SCaang Cwaii Island, in Haida Cwaii, British 
Columbia, homeland of the Haida people. 

Native perspective commemorative potential seemed 
to derive from one or a combination of the following: 
the traditional and enduring use of the land; the rela- 
tionship between the people and the land; and recent 
events in a first nation's history, such as its relation- 
ships with newcomers" (Coldring and Hanks 1991). 
Inspired by a presentation on the Red Dog Mountain 
and the Drum Lake Trail in the western Northwest Ter- 
ritories, the HSMBC took particular interest in exploring 
the significance of mythical or sacred sites and in the 
potential of "linear sites or trails encompassing a num- 
ber of tangible resources . . . and emphasizing linkages 
between a people and the land" (HSMBC Minutes March 
1 991 ). As a result of formal and informal consultations 
during 1990-91 , it was apparent that any framework 
for addressing Aboriginal history 

—Must conform with emerging prescriptions in suc- 



cessive northern land claims regarding heritage and 
cultural sites (Lee 1 997); 

—Must respect Aboriginal worldviews encapsu- 
lated in the enduring relationship between people 
and the land. 

—To achieve the latter objective, must recognize 
[w]hat distinguishes Native Peoples' understanding 
... is the extent to which the human relationship 
with places has ethical, cultural, medicinal, and spiri- 
tual elements, which are interwoven with patterns 
of economic use. Stories are told about particular 
parts of the land, spiritual powers exist in certain 
places that are absent elsewhere, and teachings are 
annexed to specific places in ways that have little 
counterpart in non-Native society. In Native cul- 
tures, these attributes are often more important than 
the physical, tangible remains of past human use of 
land (Goldring and Hanks 1991:14). 

By 1 991 , therefore, the board had already before them 
a basic outline of perceptions, issues, and structures for 
approaching northern Aboriginal sites that would gradu- 
ally and increasingly direct their considerations and 
recommendations on the commemoration of the his- 
tory of Aboriginal peoples for the rest of the decade. 
The decision not to proceed with a study of petroglyphs 
and pictographs and to shift resources to community- 
based studies marked a key stage. In moving from a 
focus in scientific knowledge to a focus in Aboriginal 
traditional knowledge, from types of sites (e.g., trails, 
sacred sites) to places that embody traditional narra- 
tives and spiritual meaning along with economic use, 
and from criteria to guidelines for directing their as- 
sessments, the board began to evolve an approach to 
commemorating the history of Aboriginal peoples that 
is based both in Aboriginal values and in the signifi- 
cance of Aboriginal places to all Canadians. The con- 
cept of cultural landscapes, rooted in the interaction of 
culture and the natural environment in all its dimen- 
sions, epitomizes this approach. 

Consultation and Participation 

One of the key implications of the redefinition in 
approaching landscapes in the 1 990s is the involve- 

ment of associated peoples directly in the selection, 
research design, designation, and management of places 
of heritage significance. The 1 980s saw transition in 
research strategies from culture history to ethno-archae- 
ology in studies, for example, of the Mackenzie Basin 
in the Northwest Territories and of St6:l6 sites in Brit- 
ish Columbia (Hanks and Pokotylo 1989; Lee and 
Henderson 1992). The more active involvement of 
Dene and Metis in the former area reflects in part a 
response to the fact that "the Dene are tired of being 
simply the object of inquiry and are becoming inquir- 
ers in their own right" (Hanks and Pokotylo 1 989:1 39). 
The Traditional Environmental Knowledge Pilot Project 
of the Dene Cultural Institute, started in 1 989, exempli- 
fies participatory action research, in which indigenous 
peoples have primary involvement in the direction of 
studies that serve their needs, including research de- 
sign and implementation, "the accepted approach to 
the study of TEK" Oohnson 1995:1 16). The active in- 
volvement of Aboriginal people, particularly elders, has 
refocused the investigative effort from the analysis of 
physical resources to recognition of the holistic and 
essentially spiritual relationship of people and land. 

Experience in the 1990s endorses the crucial na- 
ture of this role. When the petroglyphs at Kejimkujik 
National Park, Nova Scotia, were initially identified for 
commemoration, they were seen as the primary cul- 
tural resources of the park. Consultation with the Mi'kmaq 
people reoriented the commemorative focus from the 
single resource type to the whole park area. Arguing 
the "strong sense of connection between people and 
place," the background paper, prepared jointly by rep- 
resentatives of the Mi'kmaq people and Parks Canada's 
Atlantic regional office, proposed three bases for com- 
memoration of the "cultural landscape" of the region: 

—The 4000 year history of traditional land use in 
which the archaeological resources were largely 

—The natural environment of the park that en- 
hanced an understanding of Mi'kmaq spirituality 
with the land; 



—The petroglyph sites, which are a significant part 
of Mi'kmaq cultural and spiritual expression (Mi'kmaq 
1 994). 

Equally, when Parks Canada initiated a commemora- 
tive integrity exercise at Nan Sdins (Ninstints) National 
Historic Site, British Columbia, consultation with the 
hereditary chiefs argued for recognition of heritage val- 
ues that identified not only the achievements of Haida 
art and architecture represented by the village— the 
focus of the National Historic Site and World Heritage 
Site designations— but also "the history of a people in 
a place:" 

—The continuing Haida culture and history; 

—The connectedness of the Haida to the land and 
the sea; 

—The sacredness of the site; 

—Its role as the visual key to the oral traditions 
of the Haida over thousands of years (Dick and 
Wilson 1 998). 

Both examples demonstrate Parks Canada's move to 

implement three principles resulting from the National 

Workshops on the History of Aboriginal Peoples in 

Canada in 1992-94: 

—Fundamental importance of Aboriginal traditional 
knowledge to the understanding of the culture and 
history of all indigenous peoples; 

—Meaningful participatory consultations with 
Aboriginal groups; 

—Aboriginal peoples' taking a leading role in pre- 
senting their history and culture (Parks Canada 
1 994b). 

Involvement of Dogrib elders in extensive studies along 
the Idaa Trail in the Northwest Territories similarly ex- 
panded the initial research design from a survey of 
traditional sites and documentation of Dogrib place 
names and narratives to documentation of sacred sites, 
travel using traditional methods, and development of a 
training program in archaeological methods and record- 
ing of oral traditions for Dogrib youth (Andrews and 
Zoe 1997:8-10). In the resulting six-category classifi- 
cation of sacred sites, elders recognized five catego- 
ries but not a sixth, which represented identifications 

7/ Paallirmiutdrum dancing in traditional clothing at 
Arviat Heritage Day, near the community of Arviat, 

of significance from outside their culture (Andrews et 
al. 1998:307-8). Recent research projects submitted 
to the HSMBC have consistently and actively included 
involvement and consultation of local communities, 
including elders. 

Recently Designated Aboriginal Cultural 
Landscapes, 1995-2000 

Since 1 990, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board 
of Canada has considered a number of Aboriginal cul- 
tural landscapes. As early as 1991, Hatzic Rock, now 
known as Xa:ytem, in British Columbia presented not 
only archaeological evidence of potential national sig- 
nificance, but also the importance of this transformer 
site in terms of Aboriginal cultural values. Drawing di- 
rectly on Cordon Mohs' research on the St6:l6 people, 
it demonstrated the cosmological relationships that 
underpinned its role as a sacred site (Lee and Hender- 



son 1992; Mohs 1994). An agreement under the Na- 
tional Cost-Sharing Programme recommended in 1 998, 
following consultation with the St6:lo people, endorsed 
the board's acceptance of the exceptional national 
significance of sites valued primarily for their spiritual 
importance to Aboriginal peoples. 

The inland Kazan River Fall Caribou Crossing site 
and the coastal island of Arvia'juaq with the adjacent 
point Qikiqtaarjuk in the Eastern Arctic, designated in 
1 995, provide exceptional illustrations of the integrated 
economic, social, and spiritual values of Aboriginal 
cultural landscapes (Fig. 7). Chosen respectively by the 
communities of Baker Lake and Arviat to conserve and 
depict Inuit history and culture in this area, these areas 
"speak eloquently to the cultural, spiritual, and eco- 
nomic life of the Inuit in the Keewatin region . . . and as 
sites of particular significance to the respective com- 
munities" (HSMBC Minutes July 1 995). The results of 
—Earlier archaeological investigations, 
—Mapping using a global positioning system, 

— On-site visits with elders, 

—Oral interviews with other knowledgeable Inuit 
informants in the communities, 

—Recording of traditional stories associated with 
the areas 

identified the traditional Aboriginal values and the 
scientific values associated with these places (Keith 
1995; Henderson 1995). The approved commemora- 
tive plaque texts articulate the associative and physi- 
cal values of these cultural landscapes: 

For centuries, the fall caribou crossing on the 
Kazan River was essential to the inland Inuit, 
providing them the necessities of daily life 
and the means to survive the long winter. 
Once in the water, the caribou were vulner- 
able to hunters in qajaqs who caught and 
lanced as many as possible. The Inuit cher- 
ished and cared for the land at crossing areas 
in accordance with traditional beliefs and 
practices to ensure the caribou returned each 
year during their southward migration. To 
inland Inuit, the caribou was the essence of 
life. All parts were valuable for food, fuel, 
tools, clothing, and shelter (in Harvaqtuuq 


For centuries, the Inuit returned here each 
summer to camp and harvest the abundant 
marine resources. These gatherings also 
provided an opportunity to teach the young, 
celebrate life, and affirm and renew Inuit 
society. The oral histories, traditional knowl- 
edge, and archaeological sites at Arvia'juaq 
and Qikiqtaarjuk provide a cultural and 
historical foundation for future ge-nerations. 
These sites continue to be centers to cel- 
ebrate, practise, and rejuvenate Inuit culture 
in the Arviat area (in Arviat 1 997:2.3). 

Building on the 1990-91 Northern Native History ini- 
tiative, the Keewatin area project and the Deline fish- 
ery study (see below), in 1996 Christopher C. Hanks 
extended the articulation of "the elemental link be- 
tween . . . culture and the land" (Hanks 1 996a:887) as 
the core basis for understanding the cultural landscape 
of Grizzly Bear Mountain and Scented Grass Hills (Sah- 
youe/Edacho) in the western Northwest Territories. With 
a firm base in both local traditional knowledge and the 
relevant scientific and academic literature, the back- 
ground paper he prepared on behalf of the Sahtu Dene 
identified three bases for national historical significance: 

—These people had lived on that land since time 

—They had evolved there as a distinct people; 

—The interplay of place names and traditional nar- 
ratives in Grizzly Bear Mountain and Scented Grass 
Hills has characterized their relationship to the land 

Drawing on broad archaeological and ethnographic lit- 
erature of the subarctic, as well as on extensive oral 
histories of the Great Bear Lake region. Hanks judi- 
ciously presented selected narratives in relation to spe- 
cific landscape features and larger landscape meanings. 
The narratives play important roles in sustaining Sahtu 
Dene culture by transmitting language, prescribing be- 
havior, and identif/ing sacred sites from generation to 
generation through the association of place and story. 
By linking places, names, and narratives, he success- 
fully mapped them on topographical representations 
of the Great Bear Lake region. Five broad periods pro- 
vided a time frame that served to group the narratives 


S/ Nagwichoonjik, the Mackenzie River, Northwest Territories, homeland of the Gwichya Gwich 'm ofTsiigehtchic. 

thematically. Dene Elder George Blondin, whose own 
narratives of the region are widely read (Blondin 1 997), 
concurred in the framework while at the same time 
recognizing it did not come from within his culture. 
Hanks himself notes that for the Dene, "thematic con- 
nections of spiritual power and relationships with ani- 
mals are more significant than time" (1 996a:906). The 
rich historical associations between traditional Sahtu 
Dene narratives and the "homes" of those stories on 
two of the four headlands that physically divide the 
arms of Great Bear Lake show "the land is alive with 
stories which blend the natural and supernatural worlds, 
defining [the Sahtu Dene] as people in relationship to 
the earth" (ibid. :886, 888). 

In 1 997 the Gwichya Gwich'in ofTsiigehtchic in the 
western Northwest Territories presented for commemo- 
ration, protection, and presentation the segment of the 
Mackenzie River (Nagwichoonjik) from Thunder River 
to Point Separation (Fig. 8), which they identified as 
the most significant area of their traditional homeland. 
Following Hanks' approach closely, a series of oral 

narratives of Raven, Atachukaii, Nagaii, Ahts'an Veh, 
and others were closely tied to the identified land and 
its defining features (Gwich'in Social and Cultural Insti- 
tute 1 997). The superimposed five period time group- 
ing of the stories served to develop a 

holistic understanding of history, encompass- 
ing the whole of the land and assigning the 
river its meaningful place within it . . .[;] the 
stories of their history and the experiences of 
their lives on the land . . . [are the] fundamen- 
tal cultural themes [that demonstrate] the 
important place the river occupies in 
Gwichya Gwich'in culture (Gwich'in Social 
and Cultural Institute 1997:824). 

The majority of new national historic sites designated 
for historic values identified through traditional knowl- 
edge and consultation with associated communities 
have been in the North. However, Apitipik in Lake 
Abitibi, Quebec, designated in 1 996, is the center of 
the traditional territory of the Abitibiwinni and of the 
water routes they used to travel through vast areas. 
Their summer gathering and trading place for centu- 
ries, with archaeological evidences of 6,000 years of 



use at Pointe Abitibi, it is also a sacred site to the 
Abitibiwinni (Societe MatciteSeia 1 996). 

Yuquot in Nootka Sound, British Columbia, desig- 
nated in 1997, is the center of the Mowachaht world. 
Here the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nations have lived 
since the beginning of time. They have hosted travel- 
ers since eighteenth century imperial exploration, de- 
veloped whaling power of which the Whalers' Wash- 
ing House is the physical encapsulation, and have deep 
spiritual bonds to the "immense natural power and 
beauty" of the environment (Mowachaht-Muchalaht, 
1 997). The 1 997 designation responded to the request 
of the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nations that "ear- 
lier designations be corrected so that our place in his- 
tory is clear and accurate" and that "a single com- 
memoration of our area [be made] which will bring all 
of the history together under the name of Yuquot" 
(HSMBC Minutes June 1997). 

The 1 990s study of the history of Nunavut from an 
Inuit perspective was based on community consulta- 
tions and elders' judgments and was prepared under 
the guidance of an Inuit steering committee with staff 
and knowledgeable scholars' inputs. It represents an 
alternative approach to the commemoration of the his- 
tory of Aboriginal peoples. Rather than beginning with 
the identification of places, it has established a histori- 
cal and cultural framework for identif/ing places of prin- 
cipal importance to the Inuit. Three principles express 
the thematic priorities: enduring use, Inuit culture and 
Inuit identity, and regional variation. All center on the 
"close traditional relationship between culture and land 
use. Many traditional dwelling sites, travel routes, re- 
source harvesting sites, and sacred places have a rich 
complex of associative values, combining economic, 
social, and spiritual purposes in a sequence of annual 
movements from place to place, with people gathering 
in greater or smaller numbers according to their needs 
and opportunities" (Coldring 1 998). 

Concurrent with the "Inuit Traditions" study in 
Nunavut, the Metis Heritage Association of the North- 
west Territories played a leading role in the definition 

and development of eleven themes related to their 
history. Community-based oral histories in addition to 
Euro-Canadian accounts incorporated the traditions of 
both the Aboriginal and the Euro-Canadian cultures of 
Metis heritage. "Picking Up the Threads" documents 
traditional history and land use to assist in identif/ing 
places significant to the Metis along the Mackenzie 
River since the eighteenth century (Payment 1 999). 

National Historic Sites with Potential Ab- 
original Cultural Landscape Values 

A number of national historic sites designated before 
1990 for their archaeological, scientific, or historical 
values have characteristics that identify their potential 
for recognition as evolved or associative cultural land- 
scapes. Commemorated primarily for their capacity 
through archaeological resources to represent the sig- 
nificant contribution of Aboriginal peoples to Canada 
over an extended period of time, places such as Wodd 
Heritage Site Head-Smashed-ln Buffalo Jump (Estipah 
skikikini kots), Alberta (National Historic Site [NHS] 1 968; 
World Heritage Site [WHS] 1981) are recognized and 
endorsed by Aboriginal peoples in association with 
their cultural heritage. These sites are almost exclu- 
sively located in southern Canada (Buggey 1999: 24- 
5). In the 1 990s, however, the approach was extended 
to a few northern sites, such as The Hay River Mission 
Sites on the Hay River Indian Reserve, NWT (NHS 1 992). 
Comprising St. Peter's Anglican Church, St. Anne's Ro- 
man Catholic Church and Rectory, and the two church 
cemeteries with their numerous spirit houses, they were 
designated for "their close association with a critical 
period in Dene /Euro-Canadian relations" (HSMBC Min- 
utes June 1 992). Valued by local Dene for their spiritual 
role, they may be seen as part of the larger cultural 
landscape of the community. More recently, the Deline 
Traditional Fishery and Old Fort Franklin (Fig. 9), NWT 
(NHS 1 996), identified for its significant historical asso- 
ciations, was designated as a place that "speak[s] elo- 
quently to the relationship which evolved in the nine- 
teenth century between Aboriginal people in the north 



9/ Deline fishery, a centuhes-old food source of the Sahtu Dene and Metis, at the mouth of the Great Bear River, 
Northwest Territories. 

and those Euro-Canadian parties who were determined 
to explore it," to "the support and assistance of the 
Dene and Metis people" to Sir John Franklin's second 
expedition, and to the impact of Franklin's and later 
expeditions on the Aboriginal people of the region, 
particularly in contributing "to the emergence of the 
Sahtu Dene as a distinctive cultural group." Also, "the 
Sahtu Dene see the fishery at Deline as being of par- 
ticular cultural significance to their occupation of the 
region" (Hanks 1996b; HSMBC Minutes November 
1 996). The Sahtu Dene's request for protection and 
presentation of the site emphasizes the importance of 
place as expression of Aboriginal history. 

Relict Landscapes 

A significant number of other national historic sites are 
also designated on the basis of archaeological values 
to commemorate the history of Aboriginal peoples that 
may possess cultural landscape values and that associ- 
ated peoples might choose to identify as, or within. 

Aboriginal cultural landscapes in the context of their 
heritage. In addition to the Inuksuit at Enusko Point in 
Nunavut, these include relict village sites, other habita- 
tion sites, pictograph and petroglyph sites, tipi rings, 
burial places, and resource sites, such as quarries. Some 
or all of the nine abandoned Haida, Citksan, and 
Tsimshian villages in British Columbia, designated NHS 
in 1 971 -72, for example, may have Aboriginal heritage 
values similar to those identified by the hereditary chiefs 
at Nan Sdins (NHS 1981; WHS 1981). Pictograph and 
petroglyph sites, widely designated both federally and 
provincially across the country, may be significant fea- 
tures in larger cultural landscapes, such as their exami- 
nation at Kejimkujik demonstrated. Tipi rings are like- 
wise part of broader cultural landscapes, and designated 
burial sites could be sacred sites within Aboriginal cul- 
tural landscapes. Aboriginal peoples could choose to 
identify as Aboriginal cultural landscapes some exist- 
ing national historic sites designated for other values, 
as was done by the Mowachaht-Muchalaht in reclaim- 



ing Nootka Sound for their own history at Yuquot 
(Mowachaht-IVIuchalaht 1 997). Equally, they might see 
existing designations of national historic significance 
currently related to events, such as battles, or Aborigi- 
nal cultures, as part of their heritage that would be more 
effectively commemorated through cultural landscapes. 

Some landscapes related to the history of Aborigi- 
nal peoples and recognizably of historic value are not 
currently identified with a specific people. At Crass- 
lands National Park in Saskatchewan, for example, ar- 
chaeological analysis of the cultural remains provides 
evidence of the diverse activities of occupation span- 
ning 1 0,000 years, but one that ended in the past; cur- 
rently no people claim a direct association with the 
park area (Gary Adams, pers. comm. 1 998). Such land- 
scapes might be addressed as relict landscapes, where 
the cultural evolution ended in the past but strong ma- 
terial evidences remain, rather than as Aboriginal cul- 
tural landscapes, which involve the participation of as- 
sociated people(s). This division between places asso- 
ciated with living communities and those known only 
by their scientific evidences of the past would be con- 
sistent with Australia's separation of "indigenous heri- 
tage places of archaeological significance" and "indig- 
enous places important to the heritage of living cul- 
tures" for the identification of environmental indicators 
for natural and cultural heritage (Pearson et a! . 1998:1 5- 

Guidelines for the Identification of Ab- 
original Cultural Landscapes of National 
Historic Significance 

How should national significance in Aboriginal cul- 
tural landscapes be identified? What does "national sig- 
nificance" mean in the history of Aboriginal peoples? 
The HSMBC recognized that its conventional criteria, 
structure, and framework for evaluation did not ad- 
equately respond to the values inherent in the history 
of Aboriginal people. While the Minister of Canadian 
Heritage has already designated a number of Aborigi- 
nal cultural landscapes, as discussed above, the search 

for an appropriate framework to examine significant 
places related to the history of Aboriginal peoples con- 
tinued. Whether Aboriginal peoples are identified by 
First Nation, language group, or traditional territory, it 
is widely recognized that experiences with the land 
vary enormously from place to place in Canada. His- 
torical experiences also differ, as do languages. Beliefs 
and practices have forms and traditions specific to indi- 
vidual groups. The Report on the Royal Commission on 
Aboriginal Peoples identified about sixty distinct groups 
in Canada (fifty-six First Nations, four Inuit, and the Metis), 
based primarily on language. This grouping provides 
one approach to establishing a comparative context 
within which to evaluate places of national historic 
significance. Using language group as a field for deter- 
mining national historic significance is evidently com- 
plex. For example, the extensive movements of many 
Aboriginal groups through time requires understanding 
the distinctions between peoples within groups, such 
as the Malecite of New Brunswick and the Malecite of 
Quebec. The HSMBC also initiated discussion about 
using "the traditional territory of an Aboriginal nation . 
. . as the comparative universe for the site proposed for 
commemoration or designation" (Federal Archaeology 
Office 1998a:21). Some pilot projects are underway 
using the concept of Aboriginal nation as a compara- 
tive framework (Lee 2000:5). To date, while both lan- 
guage group and traditional territory are required as- 
pects of background papers submitted to the HSMBC, 
decisions on national historic significance have been 
made primarily at the level of the individual First Na- 
tion, where language, territory, and history all come 
together. Aboriginal cultural landscapes are compat- 
ible with these directions. 

Guidelines for Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes 

In the context of the HSMBC's criteria for national his- 
toric significance (HSMBC 1 999), a designated Aborigi- 
nal cultural landscape "will illustrate a nationally im- 
portant aspect of Canadian history." The history of Ab- 
original peoples is recognized to be such "a nationally 



important aspect of Canadian iiistory." As a place des- 
ignated by virtue of its "explicit and meaningful asso- 
ciation" with this aspect, an Aboriginal cultural land- 
scape will "illustrate or symbolize in whole or in part a 
cultural tradition, a way of life, or ideas important in the 
development of Canada." The identified elements indi- 
cating integrity of a place, except setting, will not nor- 
mally be essential to understand the significance of an 
Aboriginal cultural landscape, and will not, therefore, 
generally apply. 

The following specific guidelines form the basis for 
the HSMBC's examination of the national significance 
of Aboriginal cultural landscapes (Buggey 1999:29-31). 

1 . The long associated Aboriginal group or groups 
have participated in the identification of the place 
and its significance, concur in the selection of the 
place, and support designation. 

This guideline derives from the HSMBC's consistent 
direction since 1 990 that Aboriginal peoples will be 
consulted, involved, and participating in the identifica- 
tion of frameworks and sites related to their history. It 
is consistent with the established consultation process 
for Aboriginal heritage sites and the Statement of Prin- 
ciples and Best Practices for Commemorating Aborigi- 
nal History (Federal Archaeology Office 1 999). It is 
likewise consistent with recommendation 1.7.2 of the 
Report on the Royal Commissioti on Aboriginal Peoples 
(Canada 1 996). 

2. Spiritual, cultural, economic, social, and environ- 
mental aspects of the group's association with the 
identified place, including continuity and traditions, 
illustrate its historical significance. 

This guideline focuses on the identification of na- 
tional historic significance through the associated 
group's long attachment to the territory, its endur- 
ing use and activities, its social and kinship relation- 
ships, its intimate knowledge of the area, and its 
spiritual affiliation with it. 

3. The interrelated cultural and natural attributes of 
the identified place make it a significant cultural 

This guideline recognizes the integrated nature of Ab- 
original relationship to place, including the insepara- 
bility of cultural and natural values. Identified places, 
which will likely be of widely diverse types, will illus- 
trate this core interrelationship of cultural and natural 
forces that characterizes cultural landscapes. The guide- 
line anticipates that the identification will incorporate 
diverse aspects of the group's association extended 
through time. Tangible evidences may be largely ab- 
sent, with the attributes rooted primarily in oral and 
spiritual traditions and in activities related to the place. 
There may also be tangible attributes, such as natural 
resources, archaeological sites, graves, material culture, 
and written or oral records. The guideline foresees that 
the identification of attributes will recognize such physi- 
cal components as ecosystem, climate, geology, to- 
pography, water, soils, viewsheds, and dominant and 
culturally significant fauna and flora in the context of 
the associated Aboriginal people's relationship to the 
place. The Aboriginal expression of these aspects may 
occur in animal or other natural metaphors. 

4. The cultural and natural attributes that embody 
the significance of the place are identified through 
traditional knowledge of the associated Aboriginal 

This guideline anticipates that the traditional knowl- 
edge, including traditional environmental knowledge, 
will likely encompass narratives, place-names, language, 
traditional uses, rituals, and behavior related to the iden- 
tified place. It recognizes that some knowledge can- 
not be shared, but available knowledge must be suffi- 
cient to demonstrate the significance of the place in 
the culture of the associated group. 

5. The cultural and natural attributes that embody 
the significance of the place additionally may be 
comprehended by results of academic scholarship. 

This guideline recognizes the contribution that aca- 
demic scholarship makes to the understanding of place. 
History, including oral history and ethnohistory, archae- 
ology, anthropology, and environmental sciences are 
the most likely, but not the only, relevant disciplines. 



Size, Scale, and Boundaries 

Identification of Aboriginal cultural landscapes involves 
not only understanding the historic value of the place 
to be designated, but also specif/ing the boundaries 
of the designated place. The size and scale of these 
challenge both Aboriginal people and Parks Canada 
because of their very differing contexts and views. Ab- 
original worldviews focus on land rather than landscape 
features, although specific sites certainly have associ- 
ated cultural significance and oral traditions related to 
history. However, given the holistic relationship of 
Aboriginal people and the land, such places are seen 
primarily not as isolated spots, but as parts of larger 
landscapes. Identifiable landscapes may equally be 
only parts of still larger cultural landscapes. The 
Dogrib sacred sites identified along the Idaa Trail 
(Fig. 1 0) illustrate this relationship of sites with the larger 
landscape, while the Trail itself is part of the Dogrib 
cultural landscape comprising 100,000 square miles. 
The situation in the Canadian North is little different 
from the context of the Navajo Nation regarding this 
relationship: "the artificial isolation of important places 
from the whole landscape of which they are an inte- 
gral part often violates the very cultural principles that 
make certain places culturally significant to begin with" 
(Downer and Roberts 1993:12). 

How then are boundaries to be drawn? Aboriginal 
cultural landscapes might draw on experience elsewhere 
with protected area management. Canada's national 
parks use a zoning system to identify park areas requir- 
ing different levels of protection and to guide their 
management use (Parks Canada 1994a: 11.2.2). Bio- 
sphere reserves also apply a zoning approach that 
provides for a core area, a buffer zone, and a transi- 
tion zone, focused on different levels of protection 
and intervention (UNESCO 1 996b: 4). The emergence 
of bio-regional planning in protected area management, 
applicable to enormous areas such as the 2,000-mile 
Yellowstone to Yukon corridor (, may 
offer some potential applicability for Aboriginal cul- 
tural landscapes. Downer and Roberts, who are work- 

ing with the Navajo Nation in the United States, con- 
sider the 

"broader context . . . based on landscapes or 
ecosystems rather than artificially-defined 
impact zones ... is emerging from various 
disciplines in environmental planning. We are 
convinced that this is the only realistic 
approach to meaningful consideration of 
traditional cultural properties and the cultural 
landscapes of which they are integral part" 
(Downer and Roberts 1993:14). 

Such planning frameworks and co-management ap- 
proaches (Collings 1 997) may provide opportunities 
for developing mechanisms to ensure commemorative 
integrity of cultural landscapes such as the designated 
area of Nagwichoonjik (Mackenzie River). 

In Australia, many Aboriginal sites are discrete ar- 
eas separated by long distances, but interconnected by 
trading routes or the paths of ancestors; they are most 
clearly understood when they are recognized as parts 
of a network, rather than individual components 
(Bridgewater and Hooy 1 995:1 68). "Anangu, whose po- 
litical system is egalitarian and uncentralised, visualise 
places in the landscape as nodes in a network of an- 
cestral tracks. The Anangu landscape is not susceptible 
to division into discrete areas" (Layton and Titchen 
1 995:1 78). The American "Trail of Tears" National His- 
toric Trail, a multi-route and multi-site network that com- 
memorates the forced removal, march overland, and 
resettlement of the Cherokee (Ani'Yun' wiya) from Geor- 
gia, Alabama, and so on, to Oklahoma in 1 838-39, is a 
partnership of diverse groups and diverse sites with 
linked interpretive programs in nine states. Historian 
John Johnston, exploring the adaptation of this con- 
cept of nodes to the commemoration of Aboriginal 
history in Canada, notes that it applies to "places that 
tell an inter-connected story extending over time and 
place," such as trails and water routes associated with 
seasonal movements for food (Johnston 1 993). Nodes 
within a network, each of identified importance, could 
be focal points of protection and presentation in a rec- 
ognized larger cultural landscape. 

Noting that there is "sometimes no obviously cor- 



/ 0/ Kwikati or "Fence Narrows Lake, " on the Idad Trail, Northwest Territories. Dogrib hunters would erect a fence 
on the spring lake ice to lead migratory caribou to an ambush location, seen at the bottom of the photograph. 

rect boundary, " the U.S. National Park Service indicates 
that the selection of boundaries for traditional cultural 
properties should be based on the characteristics of 
the historic place, specifically how the place is used 
and why the place is important (King and Townsend 
n.d.). In several respects, the American approach can 
be recognized in existing national historic site desig- 
nations of Aboriginal cultural landscapes in Canada. At 
Kejimkujik, for example, the existing national park 
boundaries defined a sufficiently large and appropri- 
ate area of traditional Mi'kmaq occupancy to repre- 
sent the larger Mi'kmaq landscape. While in this case 
administrative convenience provided the basis for ac- 
cepted boundaries, it is not a recommended selection 
approach. At Arvia'juaq and Qikiqtaarjuk, clearly de- 
fined geographical features— an island and a point— 
with strong spiritual, social, economic, and archaeo- 
logical values related to the Caribou Inuit culture, iden- 
tified the boundaries. Given the importance of the ad- 

jacent waters to the cultural significance, future con- 
sideration might be given to defining site boundaries 
that include the key water areas. At Sahyoue/ 
Edacho (Grizzly Bear Mountain and Scented Grass Hills; 
Fig. 1 1 ), where the designated sites are also two clearly 
defined land areas related to water, the site analysis 
and discussion of values effectively articulate the 
significant cultural relationships of the larger Great 
Bear Lake landscape. Also, the historic values of the 
viewsheds at this site are particularly significant in 
the identification of objectives for the "health" of 
the site. While discrete geographical features can be 
very useful in identifying boundaries, it is evident that 
the values for which the place is to be designated 
must dominate in establishing appropriate boundaries. 

The scale of Aboriginal cultural landscapes and the 
definition of their boundaries provide significant chal- 
lenges to the approach of commemorative integrity, 
which underlies Parks Canada's national historic sites 



commemorative program. Securing the "health or 
wholeness" of these vast areas may require close ex- 
amination of the current understanding of the concept 
as it applies to historic place, historic values, and ob- 
jectives for large cultural landscapes. 

Protection for Aboriginal Cultural 

Protection of cultural landscapes in Canada's North 
begins with respect for the values, uses, and behaviors 
associated with the landscape so that enduring rela- 
tionships with the land continue. Integrating manage- 
ment of the cultural landscape into the life of the com- 
munity and using community traditions and practices 
for protection and presentation are essential to the long- 
term "health" of the cultural landscape. The increased 
role of communities in influencing how lands, waters 
and resources are managed relates decision-making 
about places more closely to those whose lives and 
livelihoods are integrated with them. Land claim agree- 
ments provide powers and structures which can be ap- 
plied to cultural landscapes. Co-management, a well- 
established approach to renewable resources, can ap- 
ply equally to cultural heritage, while long-practiced 
economic activities such as traditional harvesting should 
be actively encouraged. Conservation and presenta- 
tion objectives must be integrated with community pri- 
orities, community issues, and community structures. 
Protection for Aboriginal cultural landscapes needs to 
be integrated with local planning, economic develop- 
ment, tourism initiatives, and their associated funding 

Documentation and identification are important 
tools for protecting cultural landscapes. Where legisla- 
tion exists, it tends to be enabling rather than prescrip- 
tive and to separate natural and cultural resources in a 
manner inconsistent with the values of the cultural land- 
scape. When direct threats to the cultural landscape 
occur, the time frame is too short to carry out the 
research necessary to respond to them. Without docu- 

mentation and identification derived from long-term 
recording of traditional knowledge and inventory of 
sites, the information base needed to apply existing 
tools available within planning and environmental as- 
sessment processes is missing. Designation of a Na- 
tional Historic Site recognizes and commemorates the 
historic value of a place, but it does not carry any legal 
or protective measures for the designated place. Des- 
ignation may provide access to financial and technical 
assistance, such as the National Cost-Sharing Program, 
however, and it may carry moral suasion which builds 
public recognition and support and opens access to 
the resources of granting agencies. Traditionally, the 
most common protection technique for National His- 
toric Sites was transfer of land to the federal crown, in 
the name of Parks Canada, under the National Parks 
Act; this approach is now extremely rare. In the ab- 
sence of specific protective mechanisms, a number of 
planning tools may be applied to the conservation of 
places of recognized historic value, and management 
approaches which protect the character of a cultural 
landscape may be supported through various planning 

One direct protective measure, which has recently 
been applied to Sahyoue/Edacho (Grizzly Bear Moun- 
tain and Scented Grass Hills), is land withdrawal for 
conservation purposes under a federal Order in Coun- 
cil. In 2000 strongly focused Sahtu Dene community 
action at Deline, with coordinated activity by environ- 
mental organizations such as the Canadian Parks and 
Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and the World Wildlife Fund 
Canada (WWF), pushed the Minister of Canadian Heri- 
tage and the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs to 
withdraw land at Sahyoue/Edacho from development. 
This status was accorded in February 2001 for a period 
of five years to provide a period of protection while 
stakeholders determine the most effective mechanism 
for long-term protection of the site. The interim mecha- 
nism addresses the ever-present threat to landscape 
integrity from mining development by including sur- 



1 1 / /A campsite at Sahyoue (Grizzly Bear Mountain), a sacred site rich in traditional narrative to the Sahtu Dene, 
overlooking the western end of Great Bear Lake, Northwest Territories. 

face and subsurface rights in the portion of the site 
that is federal crown land and subsurface rights in the 
portion of the site owned by the Sahtu Dene First Na- 
tion, currently not covered by the Sahtu Dene and Metis 
Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement. The interim land 
withdrawal implements the Protected Areas Strategy for 
the Northwest Territories, which provides for analysis 
and assessment of options as basis for decision-mak- 
ing (CPAWS 2001 ; Canada 2001 ). This process should 
result in identification and implementation of how the 
two peninsulas will be managed for long-term protec- 

Recent land claim agreements in the North provide 
for various integrated management structures for deci- 
sion-making related to heritage places. Cooperative 
management boards, regional boards, territorial heri- 

tage boards, parks planning and management boards 
for national parks, and joint working groups are identi- 
fied mechanisms for achieving participation (Lee 1 997). 
Chapters on Special Management Areas (Ch. 1 0) and Heri- 
tage (Ch.l3) in the Council for Yukon First Nations' 
Umbrella Final Agreement (1 993) and subsequent indi- 
vidual Yukon First Nations' Final Agreements provide 
for designation, management planning, and economic 
opportunities in sites valued by the respective peoples. 
All incorporate the values of Yukon First Nations People, 
the equitable involvement of Yukon First Nations and 
Government, and First Nations' ownership as key com- 
ponents in managing places related to their culture and 
history within Settlement Land. Some agreements in- 
clude joint management of specific sites, some pro- 
vide for the withdrawal of prospecting, mining, petro- 



leum exploration, and coal rights at specified sites, and 
some identify culturally valued heritage areas (Canada 
1 993: Ch.l 0, 1 3). The Sahtu Heritage Places and Sites 
Joint Working Croup, established under the Sahtu Dene 
and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement (1 993) 
to consider and make recommendations to appropriate 
governments and the Sahtu Tribal Council on Sahtu 
heritage places, resulted directly from the land claim 
agreement (Sahtu 2000:1 1 ; see Andrews, this volume). 
In Nunavut, following from the Nunavut Land Claims 
Agreement (1 993), Inuit Impact and Benefit Agreements 
ensure integration of the regional economy and Inuit 
culture in all planning and development, including na- 
tional parks. 

Land use planning direction and related decisions 
that affect cultural landscapes can be key components 
of a protection strategy. Opportunities may lie in pro- 
visions of the Yukon First Nations Final Agreements: 

To identify and mitigate the impact of 
development upon Heritage Resources 
through integrated resource development 
including land use planning and develop- 
ment assessment processes. . . . [And] to 
ensure that social, cultural, economic and 
environmental policies are applied to the 
management, protection and use of land, 
water and resources in an integrated and 
coordinated manner so as to ensure 
Sustainable Development. 

Some agreements specify that the cultural and heri- 
tage significance of an identified list of trails, caribou 
fences, fishing holes, gathering places, and spiritual 
sites, and any impacts upon them, will be taken into 
consideration in land use planning and development 
assessment (Canada 1 993: Ch. 1 1 , 1 3). These resources 
are largely identified as specific features rather than 
cultural landscapes, and some agreements are explicit 
that there is no commitment by any of the parties to 
maintaining them or to guaranteeing their continued 
existence in their current state. Tr'ochek Heritage Site 
on the Yukon River, identified for its cultural significance 
in the Tr'ondek Hwech'in Final Agreement (1 998), how- 
ever, was designated a national historic site in 2002 

on the basis of its value as an Aboriginal cultural land- 
scape, and its management plan was completed in 2003 
ar'ochek 2001 , 2002; Neufeld 2001 ). 

At the Fall Caribou Crossing and Arvia'juaq National 
Historic Sites, the Conservation and Presentation Re- 
ports and associated data were delivered to the Nunavut 
Planning Commission to ensure that information about 
the importance, values and objectives of the sites was 
available for use in planning processes. Inuktitut place- 
names, oral traditions, and archaeological sites have 
been recorded and entered into geographical informa- 
tion systems (CIS); the Nunavut Planning Commission 
will maintain CIS data bases for both sites. Provisions 
were introduced into the Keewatin Regional Land Use 
Plan to provide protection from development in the 
historic site area in accordance with the objective that 
"low impact land use is practised including the absence 
of permanent structures". The Hamlet Councils of Baker 
Lake and Arviat, the Baker Lake Hunters and Trappers, 
and the Kivalliq Inuit Association all supported the 
prohibition of new permanent structures to avoid 
damaging archaeological resources and disturbing 
movement of caribou (Harvaqtuuq 1997:7.12,7.13; 
Arviat 1997:7.12,7.13). A copy of the Conservation 
and Presentation Report for the Fall Caribou Crossing 
was also sent to the Nunavut Water Board because of 
concern about developments that might adversely af- 
fect the water quality and water levels of the Kazan 
River (Harvaqtuuq 1997:7.20; also Fig. 12). For the 
Deline fishery, a water and fisheries management plan 
was recommended (Sahtu 2000:38). In British Colum- 
bia a program of traditional use studies in the Aborigi- 
nal Affairs Branch of the Ministry of Forests had pro- 
vided assistance to First Nations to investigate, record 
and develop data bases of traditional knowledge and 
places that enable First Nations to respond to plan- 
ning enquiries and threats to traditional use sites on 
an informed basis (British Columbia 1 996). 

Aboriginal communities can also develop certain 
protective mechanisms for cultural landscapes within 
existing authorities such as land management pow- 



/ 2/ The Kazan River at Piqqiq, a fall hunting camp in the land of the Harvaqtuurmiut, Nunavut. 

ers. As Brian Reeves reports for Ninaistakis (Chief Moun- 
tain), regulating non-traditional visitor activities, stop- 
ping non-traditional resource use, guaranteeing free- 
dom of use for traditional religious practices, complet- 
ing biophysical and cultural inventories, fixing the trail 
system, and coordinating land use regulation with 
neighbouring authorities are among the strategies that 
may be applied (Reeves 1 994:285-8). Canada can con- 
tinue to learn about protective mechanisms for Ab- 
original cultural landscapes from Australia's long expe- 
rience such as the Northern Territory's Aboriginal Sa- 
cred Sites Act (1989), which provides blanket protec- 
tion for sacred sites, and its Aboriginal Areas Protec- 
tion Authority, which is required to inventory any area, 
if requested, to identify the existence of sacred sites in 
the vicinity of proposed capital works (Ritchie 1 994:239). 

Conservation planning tools may also help to pro- 
tect cultural landscapes. Based on principles rather than 
prescriptive actions, they can be rooted in community 
values and encompass community practices. In 1996 

the Harvaqtuuq Historic Site Committee and the Harvaq- 
tuurmiut (Kazan River) Elders, with Parks Canada, de- 
veloped a Commemorative Integrity Statement (CIS) 
for the Fall Caribou Crossing National Historic Site. A 
CIS describes the historic values and management ob- 
jectives and, subsequently, directs the core develop- 
ment of a management plan for the designated place. 
The CIS for the Fall Caribou Crossing NHS identified a 
number of values and measures to determine whether 
the historic place and its components are unimpaired 
or not under threat: Inuit traditional beliefs and prac- 
tices are respected and the wishes of the elders are 
respected in their treatment; oral histories and tradi- 
tions are recorded, interpreted and transmitted to future 
generations; archaeological remains are undisturbed by 
human intervention unless related to research; low im- 
pact land use is practised including the absence of per- 
manent structures; and the health of the Kaminuriak 
caribou herd and of the Kazan River is properly moni- 
tored (Harvaqtuuq 1 996:C.2.0-2.5). A management 



plan will elaborate how such objectives are to be 
achieved. The Plan of Management for \J\uru-KataJjuta 
National Park in Australia offers a model for managing 
a site based on the values of the traditional owners. A 
joint management board of Anangu people and other 
Australians with relevant knowledge and expertise co- 
manage the site in accordance with Tjukurpa, "the Law 
which governs all aspects of Anangu life." The Tjukurpa 
provides the core direction for management objec- 
tives and management commitments and is integrated 
in all aspects of park decision-making (Uluru 1991, 
2000). While the operational scale of Uluru-Kata Tjuta 
is very different from cultural landscapes in Canada's 
North, the principles of its management plan, which 
roots park management in the values of the Anangu 
people, and the detailed translation of those principles 
into objectives and actions, may prove useful for ex- 
tending the directions of the Fall Caribou Crossing site's 
Conservation and Presentation Report and for man- 
agement planning for Aboriginal cultural landscapes in 

The 1 997 Consen/ation and Presentation Report, 
prepared for a Cost-Sharing Agreement between the 
Harvaqtuuq Historic Site Committee of Baker Lake and 
Parks Canada for the Fall Caribou Crossing NHS, illus- 
trates the attributes essential to the protection of Ab- 
original cultural landscapes (Harvaqtuuq 1 997). Its strat- 
egy for protecting the cultural landscape identifies goals 
and actions for oral traditions, archaeological sites, arti- 
fact collections, place-names, landscape, the river, and 
the Kaminuriak caribou herd. It likewise addresses co- 
ordination of heritage activity and cultural tourism po- 
tential for the remote site. The agreement, now in ef- 
fect, provides resources for implementing specific as- 
pects of the strategy. Limited funding in the face of 
numerous demands for assistance under the National 
Cost-Sharing Program is, however, a severe constraint 
on its accessibility and effectiveness for protecting 
Aboriginal cultural landscapes. 

Long term integrity of cultural landscapes may be 
aided by careful evaluation within established environ- 

mental assessment processes of the impacts of pro- 
posed development on the values of the place. The 
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) appears 
to offer some opportunities for protection relevant to 
Aboriginal cultural landscapes. In the definition of en- 
vironmental effect, the act includes; 

any change that the project may cause in the 
environment, including any effects of such 
change ... on physical and cultural heritage, 
on the current use of lands and resources for 
traditional purposes by aboriginal persons, or 
on any structure, site or thing that is of 
historical, archaeological, paleontological or 
architectural significance (Sec.2[l]). 

Given the integrated nature of natural and cultural val- 
ues in cultural landscapes, inclusion of traditional knowl- 
edge in the evaluation process will be critical to the 
integrity of the landscape and to the determination of 
actions to prevent or mitigate impacts of exploration, 
extraction, and harvesting activities. Most recent land 
claims agreements provide for joint federal, provincial 
and territorial environmental assessment processes as 
do federal-provincial harmonization agreements (Ca- 
nadian Environmental Assessment Agency 1996). 

Monitoring can be a useful strategy for protection 
of the Aboriginal cultural landscape. At the Fall Cari- 
bou Crossing National Historic Site, a Guardian Moni- 
toring Program carried out by community members re- 
ports on significant changes, threats or looting to the 
site observed during occasional visits, including the 
river, the caribou, and archaeological sites. Traditional 
techniques for monitoring natural resources can also 
be useful for recognizing and identifying certain 
changes in Aboriginal cultural landscapes. Australia's 
State of the Environment Reporting includes indicators 
for monitoring indigenous places important to the heri- 
tage of living cultures which concentrate on "the rec- 
ognition of the expertise of Indigenous people in man- 
aging and conserving their heritage places and ob- 
jects and their right to be active participants in the 
interpretation and management of these places and 
objects" (Pearson et al. 1998:72). 



Critical to protection of Aboriginal cultural land- 
scapes is the continued recording of Elders' experi- 
ence of the land, of its names and places, of its sacred 
sites, of the traditional narratives of the culture, and the 
transfer of the Elders' knowledge to youth. The impor- 
tance of the people associated with the place being 
active in the interpretation program and in telling their 
stories in their own voices is also integral to protec- 
tion of the cultural landscape and its meaning. 

Looking Forward 

The measures described above are all soft actions for 
protecting landscapes in the North. In recent years, there 
has been increasing public dismay and Ministerial con- 
cern that federal designation does not imply any legal 
protection for national historic sites or any on-going 
Parks Canada involvement in protection and presenta- 
tion of the site. The Historic Places Initiative, an un- 
dertaking of Parks Canada's National Historic Sites pro- 
gram and the Department of Canadian Heritage with pro- 
vincial and territorial partners, is developing a strategy 
with multi-purpose tools for preservation of historic places, 
including consultation with Aboriginal groups and tools 
for Aboriginal engagement (Canadian Heritage 2003). 
The Report of the Sahtu Heritage Places and Sites Joint 
Working Group observes that existing protective legis- 
lation in the Northwest Territories is almost all devoted 
to protecting natural landscapes and features. Although 
the sites identified through the Croup's research all 
include natural landscapes or features, the primary value 
of these sites is their cultural significance. The report 
urges the federal and territorial governments to de- 
velop legislation "which will commemorate and pro- 
tect cultural landscapes" (Sahtu 2000:25). The Govern- 
ment of the Northwest Territories has now begun to 
explore a new heritage policy and revisions to the 
Historical Resources Act. 

The approach outlined in this paper represents work 
in progress, part of a much larger and on-going dia- 
logue involving many people. This continuing explo- 
ration of documentation, identification, designation. 

protection, presentation, and management focuses 
upon the symbiotic relationship that Aboriginal people 
have with the land. These places are not relicts but 
living landscapes; the cosmological, mythological, and 
spiritual world of a people who have lived with them 
in the enduring seasonal round of day-to-day activities 
where nature and culture are inseparable. Bequeathed 
through oral tradition from generation to generation. 
Aboriginal traditional knowledge connects these spiri- 
tual relationships through narratives, place names, sa- 
cred sites, rituals, and behaviour patterns that are tied 
to the spirits of the land. 

Protection of Aboriginal cultural landscapes even 
where there is broad agreement on significance remains 
a challenge. The complex interaction of natural, cul- 
tural and spiritual values that characterizes these land- 
scapes lies outside most established conservation frame- 
works. Recent changes are, however, beginning to 
broaden these processes from "islands" to "networks". 
Identifying places people value, documenting them, 
defining their significance, and managing them in ac- 
cordance with those values and significance are key 
steps toward their protection. The powers of land claim 
agreements and the emergence of collaborative pro- 
cesses such as the Protected Areas Strategy for the 
Northwest Territories to provide tools for community- 
based action offer opportunities for broader use of ex- 
isting frameworks, such as planning processes, to man- 
age and protect Aboriginal cultural landscapes. 


This paper draws substantially on a study prepared for 
Parks Canada to assist the Historic Sites and Monu- 
ments Board of Canada in recognizing place as an inte- 
gral focus of its approach to the commemoration of 
the history of Aboriginal peoples. I am grateful to the 
numerous people in many programs and organizations 
who generously shared their knowledge, perspectives, 
and experiences on various aspects of this subject. I 
would like particularly to acknowledge insights shared 
in conversations and writings by Thomas D. Andrews, 



Christopher Hanks Joann Latremouille, Ellen Lee, George 
MacDonald, Isabel McBryde, Sheryl Smith, and Josie 

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Hanks, Christopher C. 

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Harvaqtuuq Historic Site Committee and Parks 


1 997 Fall Caribou Crossing National Historic Site Con- 
servation and Presentation Report. On file with Parks 

Henderson, Lyie 

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#1995-29. Copies available from National Historic 
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Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada 


n.p. Criteria for National Historic Significance, http:// 6 &number=SI 
Johnson, Martha 

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Johnston, A.J.B. 

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terpretation: Examples from the United States. Re- 
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Sites Directorate, Parks Canada. 

Keith, Darren 

1 995 The Fall Caribou Crossing Hunt, Kazan River, 
Northwest Territories. HSMBC Agenda Papers, #1 995- 
28. Copies available from National Historic Sites Di- 
rectorate, Parks Canada. 

King, Thomas F., and Jan Townsend, writers and 


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sal Value: Components of a Global Strategy, Bernd 
von Droste, et al., eds., pp. 174-81. Jena: Gustav 
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Lee, Ellen 

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Lee, Ellen, and LyIe Henderson 

1992 Hatzic Rock Comparative Report. HSMBC 
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National Historic Sites Directorate, Parks Canada. 

McNeely, Jeffrey A. 

1995 Coping with Change: People, Forests, and 
Biodiversity. The George Wright Forum 1 2(3):57-73. 

Mi'kmaq Elders and Parks Canada 

1 994 Mi 'kmaq Culture History, KeJImkuJik National Park, 
Nova Scotia. HSMBC Agenda Papers, #1 994-36. Cop- 
ies available from National Historic Sites Director- 
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Mohs, Gordon 

1994 St:oto Sacred Ground. In Sacred Sites, Sacred 
Places. David L Carmichael et al., eds., pp. 1 84-208. 
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Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nations 

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Copies available from National Historic Sites Direc- 
torate, Parks Canada. 

Parks Canada 

1 995 Guidelines for the Preparation of Commemo- 
rative Integrity Statements. Ottawa: National Historic 
Sites Directorate. 

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tawa: Department of Canadian Heritage. 

1 994b National Workshop on the History of Aborigi- 
nal Peoples in Canada, Draft Report of Proceedings. 
On file with Parks Canada 

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Historic Site Committee and the Harvaqtuurmiut 

(Kazan River) Elders 

n.p. Fall Caribou Crossing National Historic Site 

Commemorative Integrity Statement (draft). 
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Metis History in the Mackenzie Basin ([Yellowknife 
NVVT|: Metis Heritage Association of the Northwest 
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tional Historic Sites Directorate, Parks Canada. 
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D. Marshall, D. Nash, and B. Wellington 

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of the Environment Reporting: Natural and Cultural 
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Reeves, Brian 

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Uluru-Kata TJuta Board of Management and 

Parks Australia 

2000 TJukurpa Katutja Ngarantja. Uluru-Kata Tjuta 
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Appendix 1 

Recommendations by the Historic Sites and 
Monuments Board of Canada Related to Des- 
ignated Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes (As 
of 1 999) 

Abitibi, Quebec [Abitibiwinni] (November,] 996) 

"Both a traditional summering area and a sacred 
place for the Algonquin; 

importance not only to the Pikogan community, 
whose origins predate the meeting of the Abitibi 
and the French in the 1 7"" century, but also by 
the Wahgoshing community of Ontario; 

vestiges of various periods of occupation by the 
Abitibi Algonquin dating as far back as 6,000 years. 
. .numerous trading posts which operated there from 
the 1 7'^ century onward." 

Arvia'Juaq and Qikiqtaarjuk, Nunavut [Inuit] 
(July, 1995) 

"Speaks eloquently to the cultural, spiritual, and 
economic life of the Inuit in the Keewatin region . . 
. focusing on . . . coastal activities carried out by 
the communit[y] of Arviat . . .site of particular sig- 
nificance to the community." 

Fall Caribou Crossing Hunt site, Kazan River, 
Nunavut [Inuit] (July, 1995) 

"Speaks eloquently to the cultural, spiritual, and 
economic life of the Inuit in the Keewatin region . . 
. focusing on the inland or caribou hunt . . . carried 
out by the communit[y] of Baker Lake . . . site of 
particular significance to the community." 

Grizzly Bear Mountain and Scented Grass Hills, North- 
west Territories [Sahtu Dene] (November, 1 996) 

"Associative cultural landscapes of national historic 

cultural values expressed through the interrelation- 
ship between the landscape, oral histories, graves, 
and cultural resources, such as trails and cabins, help 
to explain and contribute to an understanding of 
the origin, spiritual values, lifestyle and land-use of 
the Sahtu Dene." 



Mi'kmaq Cultural Landscape ofKeJimkuJik National 
Park, Nova Scotia [Mi'kmaq] (November, 1994) 

"The cultural landscape of Kejimkujik National Park 
which attests to 4000 years of Mi'kmaq occupancy 
of this area, and which includes petroglyph sites, 
habitation sites, habitation sites, fishing sites, hunt- 
ing territories, travel routes, and burials." 

Nagwichoonjik [Mackenzie River] from Thunder River 
to Point Separation, Northwest Territories [Cwichya 
Gwich'in](June, 1997) 

"Its prominent position within the Gwichya Cwich'in 
cultural landscape; 

flows through Cwichya Cwich'in traditional home- 
land, and is culturally, socially, and spiritually sig- 
nificant to the people; 

importance of the river through their oral histories, 
which trace important events from the beginning of 
the land to the present.. .names given along the river, 
stories associated with these areas, and the experi- 
ence drawn from these stories; 

transportation route, allowing Gwichya Cwich'in to 
gather in large numbers . . . during the summer; 

archaeological evidence . . . extensive precontact 
fisheries and stone quarries, ensuring Cwichya 
Cwich'in survival through the centuries." 

Xd.ytem (Hatzic Rock), British Columbia [Sto.lo First 

Nation] (November 1 997; February, 1992) 

Cost-sharing recommended 

"The age of the Hatzic Rock site and its close as- 
sociation to a transformer site of clear importance 
to the St6:l6 people." 

Yuquot, British Columbia [Mowachaht-Muchalaht 
First Nations] (Ji^f^e, 1997) 

"The ancestral home of the Mowachaht and the 
centre of their social, political and economic 

continuously occupied for over 4,300 years, the 
village became the capital for all 1 7 tribes of 
the Nootka Sound region; 

also the area where Nuu-chah-nulth whaling origi- 
nated and developed and the site of the Whaler's 
Washing House, the most significant monument 
associated with Nuu-chah-nulth whaling; 

"focal point of diplomatic and trading activity 
of Canada's west coast in late 18"' century." 

Appendix 2 

Recommendations by the Historic Sites and 
Monuments Board of Canada Related to Po- 
tential Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes (As of 

Deline Traditional Fishery and Old Fort Franklin, North- 
west Territories [Sahtu Dene] (1 996) 

"The traditional Dene fishery at Deline. ..its use 
over time and the long history of sharing its re- 
sources, as well as the remains of Fort Franklin, 
the wintering quarters of Sir John Franklin's sec- 
ond expedition; 

they speak eloquently to the relationship which 
evolved in the ]9^^ century between Aboriginal 
people in the north and those Euro-Canadian par- 
ties who were determined to explore it; 

impact of the Franklin expedition and those 
which were to follow on the Aboriginal people 
of the region contributed to the emergence of 
the Sahtu Dene as a distinctive cultural group 
and the Sahtu Dene see the fishery at Deline as 
being of particular cultural significance to their 
occupation of the region." 

Hay River Mission Sites, Hay River Indian Reserve, 

Northwest Territories (1992) 

"Close association with a critical period in Dene/ 
Euro-Canadian relations; 

two churches, rectory and two cemeteries with 
numerous spirit houses— significant features in a 
cultural landscape, rather than the landscape itself." 

Head-Smashed-ln Buffalo Jump [Estipah 
skikikini kots]. Alberta [Niitsitapi/Blackfoot] 
World Heritage Site (1981); 

"Bison jump representing communal way of hunt- 
ing for thousands of years (1 968)." 

Appendix 3 

Designations/Other Recognitions by Terri- 
torial Governments Related to Aboriginal 
Cultural Landscapes (As of 1 999) 

British Columbia 

No designations of Aboriginal cultural landscapes 
as such; 



multi-agency Land Use Coordination Office plays 
coordinating role for protected areas, including strat- 
egy, communications, land use planning; 

provincial parks created with historical importance 
to Aboriginal groups; some co-managed through 
planning processes; 

program of traditional use studies under the Ab- 
original Affairs Branch of the Ministry of Forests; no 
designation, but inventory and recording activities 
of traditional knowledge and places that enable First 
Nations to develop information bases from which 
to respond to planning inquiries and threats to tra- 
ditional use sites. 

Newfoundland and Labrador 

No designations or commemorations of cultural 
landscapes where the heritage values are primarily 
associated with Aboriginal peoples. 

Northwest Territories/Nunavut 

No designations of Aboriginal cultural landscapes 
as such; 

extensive inventory and mapping programs have 
recorded locations and traditional knowledge re- 
lated to places of significance to Aboriginal 

Sahtu Heritage Places and Sites Joint Working Group 
established under Sahtu Dene and Metis Compre- 
hensive Land Claim Agreement, sec. 26.4, to con- 
sider and make recommendations to the appropri- 
ate governments and the Sahtu Tribal Council on 
Sahtu heritage places; report Rakekee Cok'e Codi: 
Places We Take Care of (2000); 

Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre website 
with school programs focused on traditional knowl- 
edge and an 1 1 ,000-entry geographical names da- 
tabase ( 


No designations of Aboriginal cultural landscapes 
as such; 

1 1 3 archaeological sites classified under the Loi 

sur les blens culturels have at least one occupation 
by Aboriginal people; most (84) are identified in 
category 3 (site, bien ou monument historique ou 
archeologique) with many (24) in category 5 (dans 
un arrondissement historique); 

provincial law provides for designations and pro- 
tection under municipal rather than provincial juris- 
diction; federal ownership precludes provincial des- 
ignation on reserve lands; 

White Mountain, Lake Mistassini was classified as 
an archaeological site under the provincial law 
when it was first in effect; designation and protec- 
tion apply to the whole mountain, and the cultural 
value of the area as a sacred place is acknowl- 
edged although the classification applies specifi- 
cally to archaeological significance; 

other places, such as the sacred mountain in 
Monteregie, are known to have significance to Ab- 
original peoples; 


No designations of Aboriginal cultural landscapes 
as such; 

authority exists under the Yukon Historic Resources 

identification of Special Management Areas under 
the Yukon Land Claim, such as Old Crow Flats and 
Fishing Branch (Vuntut Gwich'in) or Scottie Creek 
wetlands (White River First Nation), answer in part 
the need to recognize landscape areas that are in 
need of special protection/ management by vir- 
tue of their historical/cultural and present signifi- 
cance to a First Nation; 

First Nations have identified trails to be of heritage 
interest; awareness also exists of some other land- 
scapes of particular significance to Aboriginal 
peoples, e.g. Dalton Trail, Beaver House Mountain 
on the Dempster Highway; 

land use planning and development awareness re- 
view may address development, land use, or other 
planning issues that involve landscapes of signifi- 
cance to First Nations. 


Protecting; th nog; rap hie 
Landscapes in /\las!<:a: 

(_J.^. poiicies and practices 

Alaska, the "Last Frontier" according to its state motto, 
is a special case in the United States perspective on 
ethnographic landscapes. Alaska is different from other 
states, both in the ways people are tied to the land and 
in the laws and policies affecting land uses. Three themes 
unique to Alaska characterize the contrasting perspec- 
tives on its landscape: subsistence, wilderness, and fron- 
tier opportunity. 

Subsistence, in Alaska, refers to the traditional har- 
vest, processing, and distribution of wild plants and ani- 
mals, activities with cultural significance beyond their 
nutritional value. The older generation passes down 
traditional knowledge about subsistence to younger 
people, including geographic information about loca- 
tions of animals and their migration routes. Native Alas- 
kan subsistence activities began thousands of years 
before Western contact. 

Frontier opportunities were launched when the first 
Europeans came to Alaska. Beginning with the estab- 
lishment of a Russian fur-trading colony in the eigh- 
teenth century, non-Native people have rushed to Alaska 
to reap profit from its abundant natural resources. In 
addition to fur harvests, other extractive industries have 
included fishing, mining, timber, and oil development. 

Non-Natives have also come to Alaska to enjoy 
recreational adventures such as fishing, hunting, 
kayaking, or hiking in its vast wilderness. The scale 
and remoteness of the Alaska landscape continue to 
awe visitors and faraway admirers. The Western con- 
cept of wilderness is related to the idea of the frontier. 

since both are considered untouched, uncharted terri- 
tories. The difference is that wilderness is to be appre- 
ciated in its pristine state, while a frontier must be con- 

Denali Landscapes 

Denali National Park and Preserve (NPP), the state's 
most popular tourist attraction, illustrates both the ap- 
peal of Alaska's large-scale landscapes and the com- 
plex problems of protecting and managing them. The 
different uses of the Denali landscape evoke the three 
themes of the Alaska landscape— subsistence, wilder- 
ness, and frontier opportunity (Fig. 1 3). The park, cen- 
tered on the highest peak in the Alaska Range, until 
1 980 was called Mt. McKinley National Park. 

Alaska Natives traditionally used the park area for 
many subsistence activities. They concentrated on 
moose and caribou hunting on the lower elevations of 
the region and did not usually have a reason to climb 
the big mountain now called Mt. McKinley. Archaeo- 
logical evidence shows that the Dry Creek site, north- 
west of the park near the present-day community of 
Healy, was a specialized sheep, bison, and elk hunting 
camp as much as 1 1,000 years ago (Brown 1991:4). 
Like the original users of this site, Athapaskans in the 
historical period traveled in small family groups in sum- 
mer, and gathered in larger bands in winter. Their eco- 
nomic unit was a two-family household, and the local 
band was made up of two to five such households. 
Fishing was secondary to hunting in their seasonal 


round. Moose became more important than caribou in 
the late precontact period (Brown 1 991 :8-l 0). 

Speakers of five Athapaskan languages used the 
park: Tanana, Koyukon, Upper Kuskokwim (Kolchan), 
Ahtna, and Dena'ina. Koyukon Athapaskans lived in 
the northwest part of the area. Tanana Athapaskans in- 
habited the northern part of what is now the park; the 
park's mountains were the southern limit of their tradi- 
tional hunting areas. An Upper Kuskokwim subgroup 
traveled in the Lake Minchumina and Kantishna River 
areas to the west of the park. Ahtna and Dena'ina use 
areas were south of the park. 

The Athapaskans who lived in the region did not 
have much reason to climb the big mountain, although 
they did hunt on its lower parts and on other moun- 
tains. When Judge James Wickersham attempted to as- 
cend Mt. McKinley in 1 903, he encountered a group of 
Tanana people hunting in the foothills. The Tanana 
hunters shared fresh meatwith Wickersham's party and 
showed them how to get to the base of the moun- 
tain. Another group of Athapaskans showed the ex- 
plorers how to get to the glaciers below Mt. McKinley's 
summit (Brown 1 991 :32-3). 

Before the park was founded in 1917, the Mt. 
McKinley area experienced a brief gold rush. After gold 
was discovered in the Kantishna Hills, prospectors be- 
gan to work there in 1905. Later in the same year 
stampeders from outside Alaska arrived by boat and 
dog sled. Most became discouraged enough to leave 
by early 1 906. Like other frontier profit seekers, miners 
had no particular attachment to the land they were work- 
ing and moved on when the hope of profit was gone 
(Catton 1997:103,96). 

During the same period big game hunters began a 
campaign to set aside a national park to preserve Mt. 
McKinley's remarkable hunting opportunities. A report 
on the first official exploration of the mountain in 1 902 
interpreted the abundant bear, sheep, moose, and cari- 
bou populations there to be a result of the area's inac- 
cessibility. The sport-hunter-conservationists who pro- 
moted the park thought that northern animals, such as 

those around Mt. McKinley, were of mythically large 
proportions. Although they objected more to market 
hunting than to subsistence hunting, the sport hunters 
lumped both together as "pot hunters." They despised 
those who looked for the easiest and most efficient 
way to hunt, and thought pot hunters selfishly ignored 
the long-term effects of their hunting on animal popu- 
lations (Catton 1 997:90-4). 

The supporters of establishing Mt. McKinley Na- 
tional Park wanted it to be a sportsman's hunting para- 
dise, but they also sought to protect the area's thriving 
animal populations. They did not want masses of visi- 
tors each year. They testified before Congress in 1 916 
that the park would benefit from its proximity to the 
Alaska Railroad, but they had to admit the park was 
thirty miles away from the railroad. The sport hunters 
had to explain to the Senate committee why they wanted 
to protect the park's wildlife while only a few miners 
would have access to hunting there (Catton 1 997:1 04). 
Finally, with the National Park Service (NPS) director's 
backing. Congress created the park in 1 91 7, although it 
would be four years before the NPS hired the first su- 
pervisor (Brown 1 991 :1 35). 

Most of the non-Natives who hunted in the newly 
established Mt. McKinley National Park were miners. In 
1 921 , new park regulations required that hunters keep 
records of the game they killed and obtain permits in 
order to kill game for dog food (Brown 1 991 :1 47). The 
miners' strong dependence on wild meat for food Justi- 
fied their "pot hunting" (Catton 1997:98) in the sport 
hunter's eyes. Presumably, Athapaskans' hunting for food 
was also acceptable. 

At first the sport hunters who supported the park 
believed the presence of gold miners was compatible 
with conserving the area's abundant game. Poaching— 
by miners, railroad workers, and construction crews- 
became a terrible problem in the park's early days 
(Sellars 1 998:71 ). Soon, the park lobbied to ban miners 
from living within its borders (Catton 1 997:1 1 7). Never- 
theless, some miners still pursue claims today. 

Prospectors, Native Alaskans, and wild animals were 



/ 3/ View ofDenali Mountain (Mt. McKinley), in Denali National Par\< and Preserve. 

all part of the popular image of America's Last Frontier. 
The long controversy over the wolf populations of Mt. 
McKinley is relevant to landscapes because it shows 
contrasting perceptions of humans' role in nature. The 
sport hunters' desire to engineer better hunting oppor- 
tunities, and the conservationists' reluctance to con- 
trol wolf populations, have seemed in turn compatible 
and incompatible. Athapaskans' traditional hunting was 
not even part of the picture. Plainly, visitor enjoyment 
conflicted with upholding conservation principles 
(Sellars 1998:1 55-9). 

The NPS wanted to build roads to attract visitors in 
automobiles. Some early supporters of wilderness 
thought the NPS was too enthusiastic about building 
roads in parks because of the lure of tourist dollars at 
park concessions (Catton 1 997:1 44). After the NPS lob- 
bied aggressively, construction of the Mt. McKinley Park 
Road began in 1 923 (Sellars 1 998: 1 07). It was not com- 
pleted until 1938. While it did provide access to the 
mines at Kantishna, it was built primarily for the benefit 

of park administration and visitors. The park wanted to 
give visitors to Mt. McKinley NP a frontier experience, 
but they also wanted to make it easier for them to visit. 
Even the first hardy visitors began to demand more 
refined accommodations than tents and platforms. The 
NPS preserved the feel of the frontier by constructing 
rustic-looking log buildings at the park headquarters. 

The construction of the Alaska Highway in the 1 940s 
made it possible to drive from the contiguous forty- 
eight states through Canada to Alaska. Automobile tour- 
ism was even more encouraged under the NPS's Mis- 
sion 66, a ten-year (1956-1966) national campaign to 
improve park infrastructure. At Mt. McKinley NP, Mis- 
sion 66 projects included a visitor center, campgrounds, 
interpretive waysides, and scenic pullouts. The most 
controversial project was a plan to widen and pave the 
road into the park. National conservation groups, such 
as the Sierra Club, fought against road improvement 
because they believed this would destroy the wilder- 
ness character of the park. The compromise solution 



was to "telescope" the road (Fig. 14), paving the first 
few miles but keeping the upper portion of the road 
unimproved— a "wilderness road," as the NPS director 
called it(Sellars 1998:192). 

Today, unlike most of the National Parks in Alaska, 
Denali National Park— renamed at the same time it was 
expanded under the 1 980 Alaska National Interest Lands 
Conservation Act— is accessible by road. Motorhomes 
or RV campers carrying summer travelers are common 
sights along the Parks Highway to Denali. The north- 
south railroad between Seward and Fairbanks also goes 
through the park. Since 1972, visitors have not been 
allowed to drive beyond the end of the paved road 
into the park, except with special-use limited permits. 
They must schedule a time to be shuttled up and down 
the road in shuttle or camper buses, stopping briefly 
to watch any wild animals that appear. The buses take 
their passengers to Eilson Visitor Center (eleven hours 

/ 4/ Eilson Road in Denali National Park and Preserve. 

round-trip) or farther along the dirt and gravel road to 
Wonder Lake (eight hours round-trip) for up to an hour 
stop, then turn back toward the visitor center in the 
entrance area of the park. 

Contemporary park visitors see very little of its ab- 
original residents, some of whom have now settled in 
villages outside the boundaries of the park. In the past, 
the Athapaskan people who lived in the park area trav- 
eled over a broad territory. Small bands separated into 
families during the summer for subsistence pursuits and 
came together during the long cold winters (Fig. 1 5). 
Potlatches, ceremonial occasions for feasting and gift- 
giving, also included several days of singing, dancing, 
speeches, and storytelling. 

Athapaskans were expert storytellers and en- 
thusiastic listeners to stories. If the listeners did 
not seem appreciative enough, the teller might 
punish them by telling a pointless story (de La- 
guna 1995:286). Other stories, however, offered 
moral lessons about proper behavior in a spiritual 
world that included both humans and animals. Ex- 
perienced storytellers usually knew intimately the 
places and animals they mentioned and added their 
own experiences to the narratives. 

A popular kind of story among interior 
Athapaskan groups was the "Traveler" cycle, such 
as the Koyukon "The One Who Paddled Among 
the People and Animals" (Attia 1990; Thompson 
1 990). These stories center around a culture hero 
who starts by building a canoe, then goes from 
place to place and adventure to adventure, en- 
countering people and animals from mythical and 
modern times. In different versions of the Tanana 
story, "The Man Who Went Through Everything," 
the traveler visits Otter, Wolverine, Rabbit, the 
Gnats, Frog, Mouse Woman, and the Giant, among 
other characters (de Laguna 1995:96-104, 121-34, 

The Athapaskan storytellers contrast with the 
contemporary interpreters hired to tell non-Native 
bus passengers about the Denali wildlife. Inter- 




preters are typically seasonal employees from 
outside Alaska, hired not for their knowledge of 
the park's flora and fauna, but because they are 
able to establish good rapport with visitors and 
maintain a fairly knowledgeable patter. The buses 
migrate up and down the road, as visitors peer out 
the windows for glimpses of the "Big Five" spe- 
cies: bear, caribou, moose, sheep, or wolf (Pratt 
2002). While almost all the visitors see wildlife at 
some point in their round-trip journey to the visi- 
tor center, considerably fewer get to see the moun- 
tain during their visit through the clouds obscur- 
ing it. 

Mount McKinley, at 20,320 feet (6,1 94 meters) 
the highest peak in North America, is a favorite 
objective for expert climbers. It symbolizes the 
difficulties of the frontier. Each year during the 
brief spring climbing season, expert climbers from 
all over the world attempt to reach the top. Many 
failed ascents have ended in rescue or the climb- 
ers' deaths. Non-Native visitors and Alaska resi- 
dents alike are awed by the difficult ordeal of 
climbing to its top. 

The mountain, however, has different meanings 
for the Alaska Natives who lived in its shadow. 
The mountain named after President McKinley was 
called Denali, "the tall one" by the Koyukon. 
Athapaskans rarely name landmarks after people. 
They treat the tall mountain with reverence and 
avoid talking about it (Kari 1999:7). They would 
not climb Denali or other high peaks for recre- 
ation or competition. In the far northern part of 
the park, Chitsia Mountain, named for its resem- 
blance to a moose heart, is the site of a Tanana 
origin myth (Brown 1 991 :33). 

Denali NPP is just one example of the inter- 
sections and clashes between understandings of 
cultural landscapes. Today, Alaska's federal poli- 
cies are the subject of continuous struggle among 
subsistence, wilderness, and commercial resource 
extraction. Advocates of each of these views and 

practices worry that the other two may override 
their interests. The situation comes under the pur- 
view of federal managers in Alaska because so 
much of the land is publicly owned. 

Subsistence management in Alaska has been 
contentious for decades. The Federal Subsistence 
Management Program was instituted in 1991 to regu- 
late subsistence uses of wildlife in Alaska on federal 
public lands. The federal takeover occurred after the 
landmark 1 989 McDowell decision in the 9* District 
Court declared that the State of Alaska's failure to pro- 
vide a hunting priority to rural subsistence users was 
out of compliance with federal law. Following the 
1995 Katie John decision' with its subsequent ap- 
peals and delays, and the ensuing failure of the State 
of Alaska to enact legislation that gave subsistence 
priority to rural residents, the federal government also 
assumed management of Alaska subsistence fisheries 
in 1999. 

Unlike "subsistence," the term "wilderness" reso- 
nates strongly outside Alaska. Despite the popular West- 
ern view that wilderness represents untouched nature, 
the opposite of culture, the concept of wilderness is 
itself a Western cultural construct. It is perhaps more 
important to visitors and outsiders than it is to Alaska 
residents, particularly Alaska Natives, to preserve na- 
ture in a pristine condition. Toward that goal, wilder- 
ness advocates may prefer non-consumptive recre- 
ational pursuits such as catch-and-release fishing to sub- 
sistence uses. While some wilderness supporters can 
accept subsistence uses of natural resources as "hunt- 
ing to live," few can accept commercial development 
at the expense of untrammeled wilderness. 

Commercial development began in Alaska with the 
Russian colony's lucrative trade in sea otter furs. Later, 
gold prospectors, fish processors, and oil developers, 
among others, flocked to Alaska for a series of extrac- 
tive industry booms. Like the idea of wilderness, the 
concept of development comes from outside Alaska, 
although many Alaskans have embraced one or the 
other of these concepts. The frontier developers had 



no intrinsic ties to the land itself. They appreciated the 
vastness of the landscape, but largely in terms of the 
vast potential profits that could be reaped from the 
land and sea. 

Laws and Policies Affecting Ethnographic 

In the U.S. 

Cultural landscapes are a relatively new concept in 
United States resource management. Ethnographic land- 
scapes are newer still, so it is no surprise that govern- 
ment agencies disagree about what they are, how they 
relate to cultural landscapes, and how they should be 
protected. The NPS, the lead government agency in 
cultural resource protection and preservation, initiated 
its Cultural Landscapes Program in 1 990 after several 
decades of work on historic landscapes. The NPS's 
Applied Ethnography Program, which coordinates cul- 
tural anthropology work in regions throughout the 
United States, began only a few years earlier, in 1 981 . 
Both NPS programs take interest in "ethnographic land- 
scapes," yet the two programs define these phenomena 
differently. This is partly because while the Cultural 
Landscapes Program operates under historical preser- 
vation laws, the Ethnography Program has no similar 

NPS policies define a cultural landscape as "a geo- 
graphic area, including both cultural and natural re- 
sources and the wildlife or domestic animals therein, 
associated with a historic event, activity, or person, or 
exhibiting other cultural or esthetic values" (NPS 
2001:129). Ethnographic landscapes are one of four 
overlapping types of cultural landscape in the NPS clas- 
sification (NPS 1 997:88): 

—Historic designed landscapes, deliberate artistic 
creations reflecting recognized styles. Engineers 
may also design them. Examples in Alaska are Denali 
NP's historical headquarters district, created as an 
attempt to provide visitors with a frontier experi- 
ence, or the Denali road corridor. 

—Historic vernacular landscapes, which illustrate 

peoples' values and attitudes toward the land and 
reflect patterns of settlement, use, and develop- 
ment through time. They can evolve independently 
of deliberate human design. Alaska historical ver- 
nacular landscapes include the Kennecott Mine 
complex in Wrangell-St. Elias NPP, as well as other 
mines. Seward's red light district, researched for 
Kenai Fjords NP as part of a historical compliance 
study for a new visitor center, is another example. 

—Historic sites, significant for their association with 
important events, activities, and people. The Moore 
homestead, at Klondike Cold Rush National His- 
torical Park, is a rare Alaska example of the type of 
historic site normally found outside the state. The 
new Aleutian World War II National Historic Area is 
another example, although its scale is larger than 
what is typically called a "site." 

—Ethnographic landscapes, which have contem- 
porary salience to groups the NPS calls tradi- 
tionally associated people, those who continue 
to use the landscapes in the present day. Typi- 
cally, these landscapes are used or valued in tra- 
ditional ways, lyat (Serpentine Hot Springs) in North- 
west Alaska is a sacred and therapeutic site for 
Inupiaq residents of the area. In Southeast Alaska, 
Dundas Bay contains both prehistoric and historic 
remains and is a seasonal subsistence site forTlingits 
from the village of Hoonah. Bartlett Cove, also in 
Southeast Alaska and part of Clacier Bay NPP, has 
mythical significance because of its connection to 
the Hoonah Tlingits' creation myth. 

Unlike other kinds of cultural landscapes, ethnographic 
landscapes typically contain both natural and cultural 
resources (Hardesty 2000:169), possibly including plants, 
animals, structures, and geological features, as well as 
human structures and artifacts. Those who use and value 
landscapes may consider them purely natural, when in 
fact there is a strong cultural component. The cultural 
modification of the natural landscape may be symbolic 
rather than material. Moreover, there may be compet- 
ing cultural interpretations of the same landscapes: 
in California, for example, the Timbisha Shoshone tra- 
ditionally associated with Death Valley NP object to 
the portrayal of their vital homeland as bleak and dead 
(Hardesty 2000:1 78-9, citing Fowler et al. 1 995's origi- 
nal research). 

Many people may believe their very survival as a 




/ 5/ Chief Deaphon and his band, 1919. This Athapasl<an group was one of those traditionally associated with 
Denali National Park and Preserve. 

group depends on the continued vitality of ethno- 
graphic landscapes. This applies, for example, to the 
cultural values Alaska Native peoples associate with 
subsistence hunting and fishing. Many feel that the sur- 
vival of their culture is predicated upon their continued 
opportunities to han/est, process, and share wild foods. 
Non-Native supporters of the wilderness also feel 
strongly about their attachment to the land. They might, 
however, think of the entire human race as a reference 
group, or a beleaguered ecosystem, rather than a single 
cultural group. 

Nationwide, the NPS Cultural Landscapes Program 
has focused primarily on historic preservation of non- 
indigenous peoples' structures and activities. Examples 
of NPS-recognized cultural landscapes include presi- 
dential homes and historic ranches, old mines and dams, 
missions, roads, prisons, and even tenement buildings. 
The developers of the NPS Cultural Landscapes Pro- 
gram have taken more inspiration from archaeology 
than from ethnography, perhaps because archaeolo- 
gists and historical architects share an interest in struc- 

tures, material remains, and the past. Many NPS his- 
toric landscape projects include a prehistoric compo- 
nent, but fewer encompass contemporary activities. 
In the United States, as elsewhere, historical sites des- 
ignated because of archaeological evidence tend to 
be treated as a set of discrete entities, rather than as 
part of an integrated landscape (Buggey, this volume). 

On the national level. United States government 
policies toward ethnographic landscapes come from 
several important laws designed to protect cultural re- 
sources. Most of these laws require consultation with 
the associated peoples affected by management de- 
cisions. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
of 1 969, which requires an environmental impact state- 
ment or environmental assessment for any proposed 
work with potential environmental effects, was enacted 
to protect both natural and cultural resources. 

The National Historical Preservation Act (NHPA) of 
1 966, as amended in 1 992, requires that places signifi- 
cant to Native Americans be conserved with other cul- 
turally significant sites that are part of a diverse na- 



tional heritage. The NHPA criteria that determine eligi- 
bility for the National Register of Historic Places are: 

—The quality of significance in American history, 
architecture, archaeology, engineering, and cul- 
ture present in districts, sites, buildings, struc- 
tures, and objects that possess integrity of loca- 
tion, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feel- 
ing, and association, and: 

—that are associated with events that have made 
a significant contribution to the broad patterns 
of our history; or 

—that are associated with the lives of signifi- 
cant people, present or past; or 

—that embody the distinctive characteristics of 
a type, period, or method of construction, or 
that represent the work of a master, or that pos- 
sess high artistic values, or that represent a sig- 
nificant and distinguishable entity whose com- 
ponents may lack individual distinction; or 

—that have yielded or may be likely to yield, 
information important in history or prehistory 
(NPS 1997:2). 

Clearly, these restrictions eliminate many culturally 
significant ethnographic landscapes used in contem- 
porary times. A property less than fifty years old meets 
the criteria only if it is deemed extraordinarily impor- 
tant. Moreover, no cemetery, birthplace, grave, com- 
memorative property, religious property, structure moved 
from its original location, or reconstructed historic 
building is ordinarily eligible for the National Reg- 
ister. The NHPA focuses on structures and other alter- 
ations of the landscape, rather than on the ways 
people interpret it. Because an ethnographic land- 
scape may lack material artifacts or written documenta- 
tion, its value for preservation can be more difficult to 
determine than a historical structure (Evans and Rob- 
erts 1 999). 

To address this gap, the NPS has taken steps to 
make Traditional Cultural Properties (TCPs) eligible for 
the National Register. The NPS developed a bulletin 
in 1 994 to help archeologists and ethnographers iden- 
tif/ and interpret TCPs (NPS 1 994). While this has been 
an effective way to recognize individual properties, it 
has been less helpful in understanding the interrela- 


tionship of sites within a landscape. 

Another area of legislation affecting ethnographic 
landscapes deals with protection of and access to 
sacred sites. Over the past twenty-five years, the United 
States has built up a unique "legislative package" di- 
rectly related to Native Americans' freedom to practice 
traditional religion. The American Indian Religious Free- 
dom Act of 1 978 (AIRFA) affirms Native Americans' 
rights to worship; but it does not have any implement- 
ing regulations; and therefore relies primarily on the 
goodwill of landowners or managers to grant worship- 
pers access to sacred sites. However, a later Executive 
Order (1 3007), issued in 1 996, more explicitly protects 
Native Americans' access to sacred sites. Less directly 
relevant to ceremonial uses, the Archaeological Re- 
sources Protection Act of 1 979 (ARPA) requires federal 
land managers to determine whether potential excava- 
tion sites have cultural significance to associated 
peoples. The Native American Craves Protection and 
Repatriation Act of 1 990 (NAGPRA) requires that hu- 
man remains and funerary items discovered on federal 
lands be repatriated to associated tribes (Hardesty 
2000:1 82). These laws, special to Native Americans, all 
protect specific components of ethnographic landscapes. 

In Alaska 

Government management regimes frequently conflict 
with indigenous people's ties to the land, and Alaska 
has been no exception. Before Western contact. Native 
Alaskans managed the land and its resources accord- 
ing to their own practices and requirements. Today, 
harvests of wild foods are subject to a complex set of 
formal regulations that include both federal and state 
authorities in different contexts, since more than half 
of all lands in the state are federally managed (Fig. 1 6). 
Subsistence uses— hunting, fishing, and gathering wild 
resources for personal and family consumption and dis- 
tribution—also co-exist and compete with commercial, 
recreational, and wildlife conservation uses of land. 

Until recently, most NPS cultural landscape projects 
in Alaska did not focus on subsistence landscapes, but 


on historical structures and non-Natives' activities. The 
current focus on ethnographic landscapes sets NPS 
cultural landscapes work in Alaska apart from the other 
regions. Some examples of such work in Alaska are: 

— Chilkoot Trail and the Dyea Townsite Cultural 
Landscape Inventories (NPS 1999a and 1999b). 
Both sites are located in Klondike Gold Rush Na- 
tional Historical Park— headquartered in Skagway, 
Alaska, near the Canadian boarder—and relate to 
the routes taken by non-Native stampeders headed 
north to the Yukon territory in the 1 898 Gold Rush. 
They describe the Native groups who lived in the 
area and refer to their participation in historical 
events, but do not address the contemporary im- 
portance of the sites [see Horton, this volume]. 

—The cultural landscapes report for Kennecott Mill 
Town in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Pre- 
serve (Gilbert et al. 2001). Kennecott was a non- 
Native community that grew up around a copper 
mine in the early twentieth century. It is now aban- 
doned. The report emphasizes developing plans 

to restore and preserve the historic buildings and 
structures at the site. 

The ethnographic landscape report is one of the 
NPS Applied Ethnography Program's standard types 
of reports:^ 

This is a limited field survey to identify 
and describe the names, locations, 
distributions, and meanings of ethno- 
graphic landscape features. . . . Commu- 
nity members will be involved in site 
visits and ethnographic interviewing. 
Studies will be coordinated with the 
cultural landscape program, which has 
primary responsibility for cultural 
landscape identification and manage- 
ment ( gov/aad/ 

At the time of this writing, the Alaska region of NPS 
has not produced any ethnographic landscape reports. 
However, many earlier ethnographies are eloquent state- 

/ 6/ Federal lands in Alaska. Shaded areas are federal public lands. 



merits of Alaska Natives' attachments to place (e.g., 
de Laguna 1 972; Nelson 1 969, 1 983; Ellannaand Balluta 
1 992; Burch 1 981 , 1 994, 1 999; Coldschmidt and Haas 
1998). Recent examples of NPS-contracted work that 
focus on ethnographic landscapes of specific value to 
Native Alaskans include: 

—The Shared Beringian Heritage Program's study 
of Ubiasaun, a past reindeer herding community 
and subsistence settlement near the village of 
Shishmaref in Northwest Alaska was published in 
1996 (Schaaf 1996). Other NPS-sponsored studies 
of the same region include Simon and Cerlach (1 991 ) 
and Fair and Ningeulook (1994). The abandoned 
settlement at Ubiasaun is a "memory landscape, " a 
once-vital place that remains in people's hearts and 
minds (Fair, this volume). 

—Place-names studies around Denali National Park 
and Preserve (Cudgel-Holmes 1991; Kari 1999). 
These reports are based on linguistic and oral his- 
tory work with Athapaskan language speakers. 

Special circumstances in Alaska affect NPS and other 
federal agencies. Indirectly, they affect ethnographers' 

interests. The Alaskan ethnographers' focus on subsis- 
tence harvests, use areas, means of access and place 
names derives in part from the 1971 Alaska Native 
Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA),^ but most importantly 
from the 1 980 Alaska National Interest Lands and Con- 
servation Act (ANILCA)." ANCSA and ANILCA set guide- 
lines for managing federal lands in Alaska and set the 
standard for government recognition of ethnographic 
landscapes there. 

ANCSA, by creating thirteen regional Native cor- 
porations and allotting certain lands to sharehold- 
ers, superimposed Western property and business 
concepts, along with political territories, upon Alaska 
Natives' ties to the land. An indirect product of 
ANCSA was the Bureau of Indian Affairs' 1 4(h)(l ) Pro- 
gram,^ an office of the agency which oversaw the 
collection of more than 2,500 taped or written in- 
terviews with Alaska Natives about significant sites 
throughout Alaska (Pratt 2002). The records, stored 
in the BIA office in Anchorage, represent an impor- 
tant archive of Alaska Native traditional knowledge. 

/// Game Management Units in Alaska. The Alaska Department of Fish and Came divided the state into 26 
geographical units to facilitate management of hunting and trapping. 



The impetus for settling Alaska Native claims in 
1971 came from the biggest frontier opportunity of 
all, the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay. ANCSA extin- 
guished all current Native claims, but it left the door 
open for ANILCA to establish priority for subsistence 
harvesting for qualified users. Originally, Title VIII of 
ANILCA gave subsistence hunting priority to Native 
rural residents. As a last-minute compromise with the 
State of Alaska's interests, however. Congress approv- 
ed a version of ANILCA that gave subsistence priority 
to all qualified rural residents, both Native and non- 
Native. Other portions of ANILCA set aside 32.4 mil- 
lion acres (131,118 square kilometers) of land in Alaska 
as wilderness, not to be touched for development. 

ANILCA focused more directly than ANCSA on 
land conservation. ANILCA created six new national 
parks, along with several monuments, preserves, wild- 
life refuges, and wild and scenic rivers. This new law 
also brought the lands used by Alaska Native cor- 
porations created under ANCSA, under federal man- 
agement and protection (Hardesty 2000:182). ANILCA 

was groundbreaking legislation because it also cre- 
ated a new management model for protected lands 
that recognized contemporary subsistence uses by 
living Native cultures. Robert Arnberger (2001 :1 -2), MPS 
Alaska Regional Director, wrote that because of 
ANILCA, "Alaska is serving as a laboratory of how in- 
digenous peoples and their cultures remain and are 
joined with the landscape— inseparable from it." 

By creating a subsistence priority for rural residents 
on federal public lands. Title VIII of ANILCA eventu- 
ally led to the establishment of the Federal Subsis- 
tence Management Program in 1 991 . This interagency 
program includes representatives of five federal agen- 
cies. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead 
agency; the others are the National Park Service, the 
Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and 
the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

Government management of subsistence focuses 
more on uses of particular resources than on read- 
ing the landscape. Established in 1978, the State of 
Alaska's subsistence research branch, the Alaska De- 

18/ The ten Alaskan regions represented by Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils. The geo- 
graphical regions are roughly separated along cultural lines. 



partment of Fish and Game Division of Subsistence 
has documented subsistence harvests and mapped 
traditional use areas. Because of the practical need to 
resolve management concerns, the government agency 
perspective also de-emphasizes the cognitive aspects 
of the cultural landscape. State and federal manage- 
ment of resources for subsistence, commercial, and rec- 
reational uses cut up the landscape in peculiar ways, 
by creating several conflicting networks of manage- 
ment units. 

Dual management by state and federal subsis- 
tence programs further re-organized the Alaska land- 
scape in a new and foreign way. To minimize confu- 
sion, the federal program adopted the state's system of 
twenty-six Game Management Units, designating them 
"Wildlife Management Units" (Fig.l 7). Game or wildlife 
management units are not traditional territories, any 
more than it is traditional for Native Alaskans to have 
harvest seasons and catch limits. In addition, the fed- 
eral program established ten federal subsistence regional 
advisory councils (Fig. 1 8). The composition of the 
regional councils, whose members are appointed by 
the secretaries of interior and agriculture, is intended to 
reflect the cultural groups and the different interests of 
subsistence users in each rural area. Both Natives and 
non-Natives are eligible to be on the councils, in keep- 
ing with ANILCA's insistence on including non-Native 
subsistence users.' 

The 1 999 addition of fisheries to the federal subsis- 
tence management of wildlife heightened subsistence 
users' Interest In the landscapes created by rivers. 
Athapaskan groups living in Interior Alaska have a par- 
ticular focus on rivers. Some Athapaskan languages 
render directions as "uprlver" or "downriver" (Kari 2000), 
in addition to "toward the water" or "away from the 
water" (Tilley 1994:57), instead of using the Western 
cardinal directions. At a fall 1999 meeting of the fed- 
eral Southcentral Regional Advisory Council, an Ahtna 
Athapaskan resident of the area proposed that wildlife 
management units be replaced by river drainages as 
the main units for subsistence fisheries management. 

Such a focus would be closer to the traditional man- 
agement already in use in rural Southcentral Alaska. 
Although the regional council found the suggestion 
appealing, this practical and culturally appropriate sug- 
gestion did not advance any further in the regulatory 
channels than that discussion. 

Subsistence management regimes in Alaska have 
contributed to two significant recent developments in 
scientific research and natural resource management. 
One is the need to treat traditional ecological knowl- 
edge on an equal footing with Western science. Along 
with scholars' heightened interest In traditional knowl- 
edge, scientific research has become more of a col- 
laboration between Western scholars and tribal groups. 
Traditional ecological knowledge frequently centers 
on landscapes. Landscapes are an integral part of tradi- 
tional worldviews (Buggey, this volume) where animals 
and humans belong to the same spiritual world. Geo- 
graphic features may also play a part. In Southeast 
Alaska, for example, some Tlingit clans are named after 
nearby mountains. Kawagley's study of world-views of 
the Yup'ik people of Western Alaska begins with a cre- 
ation myth about humans emerging at the Yukon- 
Kuskokwlm delta (1 995:1 3). Many other Alaska Native 
creation myths tell how the first humans were placed in 
their landscape. 

The second and related development, influenced 
by progress toward shared power in resource manage- 
ment decision making In Canada, is the movement in 
United States government agencies toward co-manage- 
ment by stakeholders, including users and managers. 
Both in Canada and the U.S., efforts to institute co- 
management regimes have focused on specific natural 
resources, not landscape preservation. In both coun- 
tries, however, indigenous people have become more 
involved in managing historical or cultural sites (Buggey, 
this volume). Research involving Native peoples or 
their lands must now be conducted in consultation with 
and with formal approval of tribal entities. 

Since its inception in 1 991 , the Federal Subsistence 
Management Program has made progress toward 



co-management, in the sense that subsistence users 
participate meaningfully in wildlife management deci- 
sions affecting them. The Federal Subsistence Board is 
obligated to follow the recommendations of the Re- 
gional Advisory Councils, except under special circum- 
stances. Community residents participate and have in- 
fluence in Regional Council meetings, which are often 
held in rural Alaska. Other examples of shared decision 
making include the development of user-manager 
groups to make regulatory decisions on caribou hunt- 
ing and the introduction of community quotas for cari- 
bou in the Southern Alaska Peninsula herd. In areas 
outside the purview of the Federal Subsistence Pro- 
gram, legislation affecting oversight of marine mam- 
mal and migratory bird hunting has made specific al- 
lowances for local users' involvement in management. 

In Alaska as elsewhere in the U.S., government 
management agencies and their scientific advisors have 
begun to pay more attention to local knowledge and 
concerns. Despite the movement toward co-manage- 
ment, by their very existence land managing govern- 
ment agencies represent the dominant non-Native cul- 
ture, not the indigenous people. The concept of land 
management imposes a legal and political system that 
may contradict indigenous views of land use rights. 

Ethnographic Landscapes 
In the U.S. 

In the United States, much of land management agen- 
cies' interest in attachment to place, and hence in eth- 
nographic landscapes, comes from efforts to protect 
Native Americans' sacred places (Evans and Roberts 
1999:1). Federal land policies, intended to prevent or 
restrict access to public lands, have incidentally pre- 
vented Native Americans and others from visiting sa- 
cred or meaningful sites (Hardesty 2000:180). On the 
other hand, Native Americans may wish to prevent out- 
siders from disturbing sacred sites or visiting them dur- 
ing ceremonies. 

Those accustomed to Western religious concepts 
may not easily understand why Native Americans view 

some sites as sacred. Instead of recognizing a few 
discrete sacred shrines. Native Americans may imbue 
a more broadly defined landscape with meaning. The 
journey itself may be more sacred than the landmarks 
along the way. Sacredness can also be temporary; a 
site's sacredness may not outlive a specific use. 

There is a connection between sacred sites and those 
important for subsistence uses. Hunting and gathering 
have spiritual as well as economic and political as- 
pects. Research on the social impacts of the 1 989 Exxon 
Valdez Oil Spill showed significant differences between 
Alaska Natives and non-Natives in the spiritual mean- 
ings attached to the environment (Callaway, this vol- 
ume; Jorgenson 1995). The value non-Natives placed 
on their favorite hunting and fishing sites differed from 
the culturally based spiritual significance Natives iden- 

Place-names are another arena of conflict between 
indigenous people and politically dominant manag- 
ers. Ethnographic landscapes, as constructed by the 
people who use them, may clash with the dominant 
group's vision of the same area. Fair (this volume) re- 
views the literature on toponymy in Alaska and out- 
side the state. In Alaska, substantial NPS ethnographic 
work focuses on Native attachment to place (Cudgel- 
Holmes 1991; Kari 1999; Fair and Ningeulook 1994; 
Fair 1 996). Collecting this knowledge adds critical de- 
tail to ethnographic documentation of a world-view. 
For example, indigenous place-names in Denali NPP 
grow scarcer as one travels upland, since Atha-paskans 
had little reason to hunt in the snowy mountains (Kari 
1999:16). Alaska Native people's efforts to return to 
place-names previously used (e.g., changing Mt. 
McKinley's name to Denali) recognize that naming the 
landscape expresses sovereignty and identity. 

Some anthropologists and historical architects work- 
ing in federal agencies have experienced institutional 
pressure to develop inventories of sites. In the NPS, for 
example, all programs have been tasked to develop 
measurable goals and to document progress toward 
meeting them. The Ethnographic Resource Inventory 



(ERI), Archaeological Sites Management Information 
System (ASMIS), and the Cultural Landscapes Inven- 
tory (CLI) databases were created with that charge 
in mind. All carry the potential danger of merely list- 
ing sites, instead of explaining the relationships be- 
tween them. 

The Ethnographic Resource Inventory is still, in 2004, 
in its initial stages and not yet fully operational. The 
only nationwide ethnographic goal in the NPS Perfor- 
mance Management Data System* measures the num- 
ber of ethnographic resources parks add to the ERI 
each year. The ERI is expected to become the main 
measure of work accomplished in the agency's Ap- 
plied Ethnography Program. Eventually, it is hoped, the 
ERI will produce much more information than a list of 
resources. At present, however, the ERI does not ad- 
equately convey the relationships between ethno- 
graphic resources. The Archaeological Sites Manage- 
ment Information System, which serves the NPS archae- 
ology program, has similar problems. The Cultural Land- 
scapes Inventory has the advantage of listing whole 
landscapes instead of individual resources and of docu- 
menting landscape as a process (Norton, this volume). 
However, inventories have a way of making things con- 
crete and discrete that might better be considered con- 
tinuous. As Smith and Burke (this volume) point out in 
reference to Australian indigenous views on time and 
space, ethnographic landscapes are not a collection of 
dots but the connections between the dots. 

Another approach to U.S. natural and cultural re- 
source management is the ecosystem model embraced 
in the last decade by some federal programs, including 
the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service. 
The Bureau of Land Management has not so explicitly 
supported the ecosystem concept, but has adopted 
some of its features. These steps reflect not only an 
interest in the interrelated parts of ecosystems, but an 
admission that humans are part of the natural landscape. 
Unfortunately, each agency has encountered some dif- 
ficulties using the ecosystem model. Biologists who 
favor species-by-species analysis and management 

have opposed the ecosystem approach. Other prob- 
lems relate to the bottom-up decision making and 
focus on partnerships that accompany ecosystem man- 
agement initiatives. It is not easy to change an agency's 
hierarchical power structure. 

In Alaska 

Ethnographic landscapes are not static; they eventu- 
ally change across a geographical area. Cultural groups 
need varying amounts of space to make full use of 
their landscapes. In the past, some Alaskan hunters 
and gatherers followed migrating animals and trav- 
eled seasonally within the designated group territory. 
Sedentary groups had intimate knowledge of a broad 
territory because of their journeys for trade or warfare. 

Today some Alaska Native groups continue to 
honor "traveling landscapes." Athapaskan, in par- 
ticular, are very mobile people and have many travel 
stories (Mishler 1995). Dena'ina Athapaskan living 
around Cook Inlet used and traveled over a wide-rang- 
ing territory (Kari and Fall 1 987). As noted above in the 
discussion of Denali NPP, some Athapaskan stories 
focus on a character named Traveler, who dreamed 
in advance about the places he would visit (de La- 
guna 1995:330). Nelson (1983:242-3) describes how 
Koyukon people view the human imprint on the en- 

This imprint can be illustrated by describing 
the cultural and personal means with which 
Koyukon people vest places on the land- 
scape. Some of these are founded in the 
domain of recent human events; others are 
ancient and more spiritual than human. 
Traveling through the wildland, a Koyukon 
person constantly passes by these places, 
and the flow of land becomes also a flow of 
the mind. 

Ahtna Athapaskans, too, often tell travel narratives. 
They describe remembered hunting and fishing jour- 
neys, emphasizing survival in the face of hardship. Up- 
per Ahtna travel stories also demonstrate kinship con- 
nections across regions (Kari 1986:1 53-215). 

Inupiat people in Northwest Alaska share stories 




19/ Telida, an Upper Kuskokwim Athapaskan village and a Subsistence Residence Zone communtiy for Denali 
National Park and Preserve. 

of traveling, some of them about journeys by sea or 
along the coast (Fair and Ningeulook 1994). In regard 
to social dimensions of land use in Point Hope, an 
Inupiaq community, Burch (1981) tells of individuals' 
mobility between settlements, as well as movements 
of whole settlements. Both supernatural factors (par- 
ticularly fear of ghosts) and practical quests for ease of 
access influenced settlement choices. 

The sea dominated the landscape on Alaska's 
southern coastlines, and Aleut and Alutiiq people were 
fearless travelers by water. They also traveled over land 
and knew every landmark of certain trails. On Kodiak 
Island, at the beginning of the twentieth century, it was 
common for men from the village of Akhiok to under- 
take a walk of several days to Kaduk, on the island's 
west side (Rostad 1 988). 

In addition to their geographic aspect, the temporal 
dimension of traveling landscapes marks a difference 
between Western and non-Western ways of thinking. 
While this is often seen as the contrast between linear 

and cyclical thinking, non-Western temporal views of 
the landscape may be more accurately described as 
"the past living in the present" (Norton 2002, this vol- 
ume). The Australian Dreamtime famously exemplifies 
a view of moving landscapes, since some Australian 
Indigenous people see a group's totemic history em- 
bodied in landmarks. Alaska Native traveling stories 
also show how past deeds and adventures still exist in 
today's landscape. 

Before Western contact, Alaska indigenous people 
developed complex economies built upon sophisti- 
cated exploitation of local plant and animal resources. 
No group was isolated from other groups; all were trad- 
ers and travelers who knew varied landscapes by water, 
coast or on land. It is not too surprising that Alaska 
Natives find it difficult to accept an imposed Western 
landscape, or that Western managers would fail to rec- 
ognize the ethnographic landscapes that co-exist with 
management regimes. 

Nationwide, the NPS formally acknowledges some 



traveling landscapes in the form of routes, rivers, and 
conceptual units, such as the Underground Railroad, 
the Cherokee Trail of Tears, and Historic Route 66. These 
monuments or historical trails honor travel and move- 
ment instead of discrete sites. The Underground Rail- 
road represents the network of helpers runaway Afri- 
can-American slaves encountered as they traveled north 
to freedom. The Cherokee Trail of Tears recognizes the 
forced relocation of Cherokees from their homeland in 
the Southeastern U.S. to Oklahoma. Historic Route 66 
commemorates the route Dust Bowl farmers took from 
the Central Plains to California during the Great De- 
pression in the 1 930s. 

For non-Native Americans, preserved historical 
landscapes tend to celebrate the conquest of nature 
(Melnick 2000:26). This adds to the ongoing alienation 
of Native American values from the existing system 
of historical landscape management. At Alaska's Klon- 
dike Gold Rush National Historical Park, for example, 
visitors are shown the travails of Gold Rush prospec- 
tors as they navigated the Chilkoot Trail. Native Ameri- 
cans, however, were not until recently a significant part 
of the NPS interpretation of the Klondike story. 

Native American ethnographic landscapes tend to 
be more inclusive and more geographically widespread 
than those defined by NPS cultural landscape guide- 
lines. A landscapes approach is a better way to show 
how cultural sites and resources are interrelated than 
the Traditional Cultural Properties approach, which looks 
at landmarks in a piecemeal fashion (Stoffle and Evans 
1990). Unfortunately, cultural resource managers con- 
tinue to be skeptical of Native Americans' statements 
about holistic conservation and their attachments to 
sacred places and activities. 

Policy Implications 

To explore the implications for policy, we now return 
to the originally posed three-way struggle among sub- 
sistence, wilderness, and frontier opportunities. From 
the government management standpoint, all three cat- 
egories represent competing user groups. There tends 

to be little interest in overlapping views, despite rec- 
ognition that there is much overlap between them. 

Land and resource managers tend to assume that 
indigenous foragers had minimal effect on the land- 
scape. For both the early conservation movement and 
for more recent conservationists, the opposite of wil- 
derness was development (Sellars 1 998:2 1 1 ). Both gov- 
ernment agencies and conservationists viewed Euro- 
American management as the only form of manage- 
ment (Callaway, this volume). Native Americans' uses 
of the landscape were not part of the equation. Today, 
while a particular site or area may seem to non-Native 
visitors and scientists to preserve nature or commemo- 
rate historical events, it may also represent a homeland 
to Native people (Buggey, this volume). 

Cultural resource managers have embraced the con- 
servation goal of preserving the integrity of the natural 
landscape and have applied this goal to preserving 
historical landscapes (Howett 2000). Indeed, integrity 
is an important criterion for National Register of His- 
toric Places eligibility. Resource managers have not 
so wholeheartedly supported preserving the integrity 
of ethnographic landscapes. They tend to manage each 
species separately, rather than preserve an entire land- 
scape and the activities it incorporates. 

An area's designation as wilderness confounds sub- 
sistence users as much as do the artificial boundaries 
of the federal or state game management unit system. 
In non-Native understanding, wilderness land is unin- 
habited, unused, and untouched. Indigenous people's 
subsistence uses are tolerated or ignored largely as 
long as they do not seem to modify the landscape. 
Consumptive human uses, even for subsistence or for 
religious ceremonies, threaten the integrity of non- 
Natives' perceived wilderness. 

NPS examples of ethnographic landscapes in Alaska 
are mainly those used by Native Alaskans, just as eth- 
nography in Alaska has focused upon the aboriginal 
inhabitants of the state. In Alaska, ethnographic land- 
scapes tend to remain hidden from public view, while 
the cultural landscape exemplified in historical monu- 



ments and artifacts left by Western culture is widely 
displayed and interpreted to visitors. Western histori- 
cal landscapes are also actively promoted to encour- 
age tourism, public awareness, and commercial rev- 
enues coming from increased visitorship. Therefore, the 
spiritual values Native Alaskans attach to their land- 
scape are neither presented nor properly understood 
by most of the non-Native residents and visitors. 

Most current ethnographic research in Alaska, in- 
cluding landscape studies, involves collaboration be- 
tween Western scholars and Alaska Natives (e.g., Kari 
1986; Fair and Ningeulook 1994; Mishler 1995; Ellanna 
and Balluta 1992). Anthropologists' heightened inter- 
est in traditional ecological knowledge has a parallel 
in historical architects' growing interest in the cogni- 
tive aspects of landscape. The significant disciplinary 
difference may be methodological: anthropologists 
learn about ethnographic landscapes using the meth- 
ods of face-to-face interviews and participant observa- 
tion, while landscape architects look at features of land- 
scape—particularly man-made structures— before inter- 
preting the values embedded in cultural resources. 

NPS study of ethnographic landscapes is still in 
beginning stages, but it has progressed further than in 
other government agencies. Recognition of diverse 
contemporary cultural views of the landscape, and of 
values placed on landscapes, is gradually making its 
way through the layers of the U.S. federal land man- 
agement system. The Forest Service and the Fish and 
Wildlife Service have both regarded landscape diver- 
sity as axiomatic to the ecosystem approach they have 
embraced. Consequently, these agencies have come 
closer to appreciating the cultural context of ethno- 
graphic landscape and have moved away from a spe- 
cies-by-species or site-by-site approach to biota and 
landscapes. The Forest Service has taken special inter- 
est in past human roles in altering landscapes, particu- 
larly Native Americans' past practices of purposely set- 
ting fires to control the landscape (MacCleary 1994). 
The Fish and Wildlife Service also acknowledges that 
humans are active participants in ecosystem change. 

The Bureau of Land Management and the Minerals Man- 
agement Service, both in the U.S. Department of Inte- 
rior, have developed programs to manage visual land- 
scapes for the protection of scenic values. The Depart- 
ment of Interior agencies and the Forest Service in the 
Department of Agriculture have all endeavored to in- 
corporate traditional knowledge along with data col- 
lected by the methods of Western science in federal 
decision making (Burwell 2001). 

Traditional knowledge is typically tied to a specific 
place or locality. An important policy implication is 
that managers must reconcile their need to find broad, 
one-size-fits-all management (for efficiency, enforce- 
ment, or personnel training purposes) with the goals of 
co-management and use of local knowledge. While 
many in the NPS believe that landscape protection is 
best accomplished by the people who use the land, the 
NPS and other federal agencies also have a national 
and international constituency. Political pressures on 
the management agencies may prevent them from 
wholeheartedly adopting local knowledge as a guide. 


United States government policies to designate and 
protect cultural landscapes are primarily driven by his- 
toric preservation laws, particularly the 1 966 National 
Historical Preservation Act. In NPS usage, ethnographic 
landscapes are a specific type of cultural landscapes, 
incorporating both natural and cultural elements. They 
are significant to contemporary, traditionally associated 
peoples. The American Indian Religious Freedom Act 
(1 978) and Executive Order 30007 (1 996), which pro- 
tect Native Americans' access to sacred sites, and Na- 
tional Register Bulletin 38 (1994), providing guidelines 
for documenting Traditional Cultural Properties have, 
to a lesser extent, also influenced management of eth- 
nographic landscapes. 

Both the Cultural Landscapes Program and ethnog- 
raphers in the NPS have had to contend with an institu- 
tional interest in considering distinct sites rather than 
ethnographic landscapes as a whole. Pressure on gov- 



ernment agencies to produce measurable results con- 
tributes to a practice of merely listing sites, rather than 
describing their interconnectedness. The common goal 
of seeing landscape as a process, or a work-in-progress, 
instead of just buildings or trees, is a reason for agen- 
cies and programs to work together. 

Until now, government-sponsored ethnographic or 
cultural landscape work in Alaska has had little explicit 
reference to ethnographic landscapes. Implicitly, how- 
ever, ethnography and cultural landscape work in this 
region has done much to address Alaska Native peoples' 
attachment to landscape. In state and federal land man- 
agement regimes, management deliberations and deci- 
sions impose a Western regulatory vision upon the in- 
digenous system of land use. Government agencies' 
increased reliance on traditional ecological knowledge, 
along with increased support for co-management re- 
gimes, brings resource managers closer to understand- 
ing and working with indigenous worldviews. 


Janet Cohen, Tonia Horton, Igor Krupnik, and James 
Mason provided helpful comments on a draft of this 
paper. Cari Goettcheus and the late Miki Crespi kindly 
sent an early paper they wrote together addressing col- 
laboration between the NPS Applied Ethnography and 
Cultural Landscapes programs. 


1 . Katie John, an Ahtna Athapaskan elder from 
the village of Mentasta, Alaska, was one of the plain- 
tiffs in the Johm v. State of Alaska case. She and her 
co-plaintiffs sued for the right to fish for subsistence 
at her family's site. 

2. The others are Rapid Ethnographic Assess- 
ment Procedure, Ethnographic Overview and Assess- 
ment, Traditional Use, Cultural Affiliation, Ethno- 
history, and Ethnographic Oral and Life Histories 

3. ANCSA's goal was to extinguish aboriginal 
land claims in Alaska. The discovery of oil reserves 
in Alaska, and the federal freeze on state land se- 

lections, made it more urgent to find a quick resolu- 
tion to Native land claims (Case 1984:14). 

4. Following up on certain provisions of ANCSA 
regarding unreserved lands, ANILCA enabled the U.S. 
Department of Interior to withdraw and classify lands 
in the public interest (Case 1 984:298). 

5. This program takes its name from the section 
of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which au- 
thorizes the Secretary of the Interior to withdraw 
unreserved and unappropriated Native cemetery sites 
and historical places located on public lands, and to 
convey them to regional corporations. 

6. A list of technical reports, and abstracts from 
the reports, are listed on the Alaska Department of 
Fish and Game website: 

7. By the terms of ANILCA, the NPS manages 
subsistence uses on its lands a little differently from 
the other federal landholding agencies in Alaska. In 
certain Alaska parks, such as Glacier Bay National 
Park, subsistence uses are not allowed. ANILCA es- 
tablished a Subsistence Resources Commission, com- 
prised of local rural residents, for each park that al- 
lows subsistence activities. It makes recommenda- 
tions to park managers and works with the NPS to 
develop a comprensive subsistence management 
plan for the park. Under NPS regulations, a person is 
eligible to harvest subsistence resources in a park if 
he lives in a designated Resident Zone Community 
for that park or has an individual subsistence eligi- 
bility permit. 

8. This goal is optional for national parks. 

9. Ethnographic resources are "subsistence and 
ceremonial locales and sites, structures, objects, and 
rural and urban landscapes assigned cultural signifi- 
cance by traditional users" (NPS 1997:160). 

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1 994 Neerihiinjik—We Traveled from Place to Place. 

Fairbanks: Alaska Native Language Center. 
Morseth, Michele 

1 998 Puyuiek Pu 'irtuq! The People of the Volcanoes: 
Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve Ethno- 
graphic Overview and Assessment. Anchorage: Na- 
tional Park Service. 

National Park Service 

1 993 National Register Bulletin 38: Guidelines for Evalu- 
ating and Documenting Traditional Cultural Proper- 
ties. Patricia L. Parker and Thomas F. King, eds. Wash- 
ington, DC: National Park Service. 

1 997 National Register Bulletin 1 5: How to Apply the 
National Register Criteria for Evaluation. Washington, 
DC: National Park Service. 

1 998 Director's Order NPS-28: Cultural Resource 
Management Guideline. Release No. 5 (Final). 

2001 2001 Management Policies. 
National Park Service, Alaska Regional Office 
1999a Chilkoot Trail, Klondike Gold Rush National His- 
torical Park: CLI Coordinator Review Report. On file in 
the Cultural Landscapes Inventory. 

1 999b Dyea Historic Townsite, Klondike Gold Rush 
National Historical Park: CLI Coordinator Review Re- 

port. On file in the Cultural Landscapes Inventory. 
Nelson, Richard K. 

1969 Hunters of the Northern Ice. Chicago: Univer- 
sity of Chicago Press. 

1 983 Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of 
the Northern Forest. Chicago: University of Chicago 

Pratt, Kenneth 

2002 Director, ANCSA 14(h)l Office, Bureau of In- 
dian Affairs, Anchorage. Personal communication. 
May 31 and August 6. 

Rostad, Michael 

1 988 Time to Dance: Life of an Alaska Native. An- 
chorage: A.T. Publishing. 
Sauer, Carl O. 

1963 (1925) The morphology of landscape. In Land 
and Life: A Selection from the Writings of Carl Ortwin 
Sauer, ]ohr\ Leighly, ed., pp. 315-50. Berkeley, CA: 
University of California Press. 

Schaaf, Jeanne, ed. 

1996 Ubiasaun: First Light: Ihupiaq Hunters and 
Herders in the Early Twentieth Century, Northern 
Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Anchorage: National Park 
Service, Alaska System Support Office. 

Sellars, Richard West 

1997 Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A 
History. New Haven: Yale University Press. 

Simon, James J.K., and Craig Gerlach 
1991 Reindeer Herding Subsistence and Alaska Land 
Use in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, 
Northern Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Anchorage: Na- 
tional Park Service. 
Stoffle, R., and M. Evans 

1 990 Holistic Conservation and Cultural Triage: 
American Indian Perspectives on Cultural Re- 
sources. Human Organization 49.9] -9. 

Thompson, Chad 

1 990 K'etetaalkkaanee, The One Who Paddled 
Among the People and Animals: An Analytical Com- 
panion Volume. Fairbanks: Yukon Koyukuk School 
District and Alaska Native Language Center. 

Tilley, Christopher 

1994 A Phenomenology of Landscape: Places, 
Paths, and Monuments. Oxford/Providence: Berg 



w nting Ethnographic History: 

j^istonc preservation, (Cultural Landscapes, 
an d Trad itionai (Cultural properties 


In a report released in July 2001, the National Park 
Advisory Board articulated its concerns that the na- 
tional parks "actively acknowledge the connections 
between native cultures and the parks, and assure 
that no relevant chapter in the American heritage 
experience remains unopened" with this recommen- 

[T|he National Park Service should help 
conserve the irreplaceable connections that 
ancestral and indigenous people have with 
the parks. . . . Parks should become sanctuar- 
ies for expressing and reclaiming ancient 
feelings of place. Efforts should be made to 
connect these peoples with parks and other 
areas of special significance to strengthen 
their living cultures (National Park Service 

Reinforcing this idea, the report asserted, 
"America's national parks were places of human 
feeling long before they became parks. They are 
ancestral homelands" (ibid.:8, emphasis added). 
Without referring to Native Americans in particu- 
lar, this seemingly commonsensical observation 
actually presents a formidable challenge to ways 
in which park histories are written and interpreted. 
It also highlights the cultural parallax in which the 
issue of heritage production resides: the differ- 
ences in knowledge between parks as homelands 
and as uninhabited places in which historical sig- 
nificance is imposed and interpreted "from the 
outside," the institutional framework of the Na- 

tional Park Service (NPS). Although the use of the 
word "homelands" is an enormous advance in 
policy rhetoric, the implications for heritage con- 
struction as well as the subsequent implementa- 
tion and management of these "sanctuaries" are 
much less clear. 

From the Braudelian perspective of the iongueduree, 
the "long view," this brief statement is a tentative over- 
ture toward accepting the contingent and provisional 
nature of the past as an accretion of many layers, physi- 
cal and symbolic, illustrating human interaction with 
the landscapes that are now parks. The act of writing 
history as an interpretation of the past, then, becomes 
both text and texture for an alternative knowledge of 
place, a middle ground where the view from within 
tempers the view from without, negotiating uncertain 
terrain. Embedding this imperfect and arguably subjec- 
tive model of history within a landscape is even more 
challenging: there is no stasis, historical or ecological, 
possible in a dynamically evolving environment. Land- 
scapes are, at their most essential, compositions of per- 
petual change. 

The historical imperative for parks to include "people 
with long and deep connections with our parklands 
and cultural landscapes" suggests, in effect, a reorder- 
ing of heritage preservation priorities to evoke and 
interpret the lived experience and cultural association 
with American lands as they have been inhabited and 
shaped rather than from the perspective of the visitor. 


"discoverer," or scientist. The invisible tracery of ideo- 
logical paradigms has negated, misrepresented, or ig- 
nored the complexity of Native American history, ob- 
scuring not only their landscape presence, but their 
very cultural survival. If "history is the essence of the 
idea of place," then the translation of history into heri- 
tage is indelibly etched with the cultural conservation 
of place (Classie 1982:664). 

Writing history and constructing heritage from this 
vantage point will be an arduous and painstaking task 
occurring at a number of levels. It entails, necessarily, 
the confluence of social and environmental histories, 
of multiple stories, of mosaics of belief and practice 
that shift, like a kaleidoscope, depending on the indi- 
vidual and communal experiences in these landscapes 
called parks. As a result, writing history in the land- 
scape vein is profoundly ethnographic in method; it 
is culture inscribed, nature adapted. One without the 
other is incomplete. And nowhere is this potential 
to understand and interpret "ancestral homelands" 
more integral than in the NPS' attempt to document 
and preserve the "ethnographic landscape," defined 
as a distinctive resource environment representing 
the heritage values associated with a historical cul- 
tural group.' 

By examining the National Park Service's institu- 
tional approach to historic preservation and cultural 
landscapes— particularly ethnographic landscapes— this 
essay examines the rather convoluted process of docu- 
menting and preserving landscapes through the Na- 
tional Register of Historic Places administered by the 
NPS. This exploration is important because it begins to 
illuminate the shortcomings of a historical paradigm 
applied not only to cultural groups, such as Native 
Americans, but to cultural landscapes as a whole genre 
of heritage. The essay concludes with a reflection on 
how a recovery of landscape as a language and critical 
practice can transform heritage production. It hints at a 
sweeping revision that holds promise for not only the 
ways in which Native American histories of place are 
written but, in the larger context, for a more sophisti- 

cated and integrated interpretation of national parks as 
landscapes of heritage. 

An Uneasy Fit: The National Register and 
Emerging Cultural Landscape Methodology 

In her compelling argument, Anne Whiston Spirn 
(1 998:1 6, 22) eloquently articulates the profound rela- 
tionship between humans and land as an active pro- 
cess in which "reading" and "speaking" landscape as a 
landscape inherently associates people with place. Most 
importantly, Spirn's description of landscape as an evo- 
lutionary process one developed, lost, recovered, re- 
shaped, or forgotten through time— is intrinsically linked 
to cultural survival: "The language of landscape uncov- 
ers the dynamic connection between place and those 
who live there." Learning to read landscapes is "relearn- 
ing the language that holds life in place." Thus, a dia- 
logue between people and place is intimate and re- 
vealing; conversely, a "loss of fluency in the language 
of landscape . . . limits our celebration of landscape as 
a partnership" (Spirn 1 998: 1 6,22). 

Thus defined, landscape is essentially a dialogue 
between humans and place, articulated in multiple 
realms: the artful shaping of land, the active use and 
management of resources, the embeddedness of cre- 
ation stories, and the shapes of enduring heritage. Land- 
scapes are synthetic, integrative, encompassing pro- 
cesses of evolution, mind-boggling in scale. But can 
the concept of landscape be institutionalized as a way 
of seeing, of reading land and place in ways that con- 
tinue traditions of land protection and ensure cultural 
conservation? How can it transform static histories of 
place into a vibrant heritage that not only reflects the 
past, but also the future, as a model of cultural knowl- 

In its role as the steward of heritage places, the 
National Park Service's responsibility is, first of all, to 
comprehend, or read, its own landscapes as complex 
historical and ecological entities in which valuable re- 
sources are to be protected. This, of course, is far easier 
said than done, in part due to the complicated history 



of the NPS as an institution whose sense of heritage, a 
common past, is splintered between an array of depart- 
ments charged with resource protection along the prob- 
lematic faultlines of "natural" and "cultural." Chief among 
these departments are the various divisions of cultural 
resource management, including archaeology, history, 
ethnography, historic architecture, and cultural land- 
scapes. Segregated from this mix is the division of in- 
terpretation, a key element in bridging the gap between 
documented histories and the articulation of places 
as repositories of heritage. Additionally, the separa- 
tion of natural resource management into its own 
heritage and conservation model adds to the com- 
partmentalization of landscape values, by now be- 
reft of their cultural origins.-^ 

The inception of the cultural landscape paradigm in 
the NPS gathered momentum beginning in 1981 with 
the recognition that parks were composed of landscapes, 
a resource type to be inventoried and preserved as part 
of the agency's mission. This acknowledgment proved 
to be not only a major definitional shift for the parks, 
but an ideological and operational one as well. Be- 
fore implementing the cultural landscapes program, 
cultural resource studies and management policies 
in the NPS were constructed along disciplinary lines; 
history, historic architecture, and archaeology. In the 
process, the legibility of the historic landscape and its 
critical role in shaping the nature of its embedded re- 
sources (such as structures and archaeological sites) 
often fell through the cracks. Certain landscape char- 
acteristics, such as land use, topography, and veg- 
etation, were generally noted, but not seen as es- 
sential determinants for the historic scene. Archaeo- 
logical relics and monuments, battlefields and sites, 
were not located in an active field of engagement, 
but rather seen as static tableaux that preserved and 
interpreted physical vestiges related to central themes 
of American nationalism. 

The ideological framework for identifying historic 
resources for preservation relied on museum-dominated 
theories of American material culture embodied in the 

original impetus for historic preservation on a national 
scale, the Historic Sites Act of 1 935. This critical piece 
of legislation capped years of active lobbying and ne- 
gotiation by the NPS, especially under the leadership 
of Horace Albright and, later, the new chief of the His- 
tory Branch, Verne Chatelain, to move beyond the early 
twentieth century legacy of preserved public lands 
focused on archaeological ruins (almost exclusively 
Native American, such as Casa Grande and Mesa 
Verde) and battlefield sites designated under the aus- 
pices of the Antiquities Act and the Department of 
War mandates.^ 

The language of the Historic Sites Act focused on 
"historic sites, buildings, and objects" that illustrated a 
thematic American history through physical preserva- 
tion akin to outdoor museums. It also instituted a cen- 
sus approach toward identifying historic properties 
worthy of preservation, implying a process that was 
both curatorial and prescriptive, and most importantly, 
defined by federal standards. With the consolidation of 
archaeological sites and battlefields, Director Albright's 
vision that NPS would "go rather heavily into the his- 
torical park field" and that it was "in business" as a 
dominant force in historic preservation set the agenda 
for the agency as the heritage institution of the na- 
tion.'^ More than thirty years later, the creation of the 
National Register of Historic Places within the provi- 
sions of the National Historic Preservation Act (1 966) 
further institutionalized national preservation planning 
by structuring historic pasts according to strictly de- 
fined artifactual typologies within broad thematic defi- 
nitions of American history, namely the National Reg- 
ister for Historic Places.^ 

Continuing the initial Historic Sites Act's emphasis 
on guiding a national survey of "sites, buildings, and 
objects," the National Register reinforced the idea of 
interpreting a national history through identifying, docu- 
menting, and preserving discrete resources, the "his- 
toric properties," as artifacts. As the locus of heritage 
construction at its broadest scale, e.g., the federal gov- 
ernment, the National Register continues to represent 



the dominant historical paradigm in American historic 
preservation, dramatically influencing how "cultural" 
resources are defined, and subsequently included in or 
excluded from, the histories, interpretation, and man- 
agement of parks as heritage places. 

The impress of the National Register, its ability to 
express a unique character of place in terms of cultural 
association is highly subject to the degree of fit be- 
tween its fixed template of themes, contexts, and rec- 
ognizable (largely tangible) relics of the past. As a "na- 
tional census of historic properties," the National Reg- 
ister functions as the prime arbiter of the historical value 
of resources ranging in scale from "objects" to "dis- 
tricts." Its conception of the historical "significance" and 
material "integrity" of these resources viewed as "prop- 
erty types" relies on an evaluation process consisting 
of various levels of scrutiny, which in turn reflects criti- 
cal relationships that must be addressed in order for a 
property to be considered eligible for listing. First, the 
property must be designated as a property type, whether 
object, structure, building, site, or district. The property 
type relates directly to a prescribed thematic context, 
which sets up a determination of historical signifi- 
cance due to the property's association with histori- 
cal events, personages, styles, or its ability to poten- 
tially yield meaningful research or information, fac- 
tors otherwise known as "criteria for evaluation" (Na- 
tional Register 1997). 

Within the National Register system, then, construct- 
ing the history of a site or district depends on a particu- 
lar codification of the three-dimensional world as his- 
tory that: 

—Patterns the physical environment into precon- 
ceived categories of form; 

—Adheres to a typological hierarchy of historical 
events and individuals; and 

—Most importantly, determines its future by assign- 
ing heritage values. 

As a result of its function as a census, the Register's 
necessity to draw tight boundaries and strict interpreta- 
tions are more the exception than the rule. Eschewing 

the unique process of evolution that characterizes the 
history of particular landscapes, the essential foci of 
the National Register are physical vestiges, the artifac- 
tual remains, a limitation that obscures, in many ways, 
the real efficacy of landscapes as heritage resources 
(especially in the case of homelands and cultural 

Discrete themes, bounded sites, and periods of sig- 
nificance with prescribed beginning and end dates au- 
gur to some unavoidable consequences when consid- 
ering cultural landscapes. Before the emergence of a 
cultural landscape framework in the past few decades, 
historic preservation professionals in the NPS faced 
the dilemma of defining historic resources through the 
formulaic rigor of the National Register, thus distilling 
historic character and values to discrete entities, the 
artifacts, supporting a thematic national history. While 
helpful in identif/ing elements of historic fabric, this 
approach rendered the larger context, the cultural land- 
scape, unrecognizable, if not altogether invisible. 
Particularly absent was the interconnection with the 
natural environment in which these historic resources 
not only resided, but by which they were shaped, 
sited, constructed, and influenced through time. The 
problem of nature, particularly ecological relation- 
ships, constitutes a virtually insurmountable obstacle 
in the National Register's static view of history (cf. 
Cook 1995). 

The establishment of the NPS cultural landscapes 
program was a response to the inadequacies of na- 
tional presen/ation policies and laws in acknowledg- 
ing the totality of resource environments within park 
lands. Building on a legacy of cultural landscape dis- 
course originating with Carl Sauer, and incorporating 
the vernacular perspectives of landscape historians such 
as J.B. Jackson, the NPS now defines a cultural land- 
scape as "a geographic area, including both cultural 
and natural resources and the wildlife or domestic ani- 
mals therein, associated with a historic event, activity, 
or person or exhibiting other cultural or aesthetic val- 
ues" (Birnbaum 1 994:1 ). Cultural landscapes are identi- 



fled and documented as resources integral to park plan- 
ning and management. Their importance, according to 
federal law and NPS Management Policies, lies in the 
statement that: 

[A]ll cultural landscapes are to be managed 
as cultural resources, regardless of the type 
or level of significance. Cultural landscape 
management focuses on preserving a 
landscape's physical attributes, biotic 
systems, and use that contributes to its 
historical significance. Research, planning, 
and stewardship are the framework for the 
program (National Park Service 1998:97). 

A genuine handicap for cultural landscapes as an 
institutionally defined category of resource is the 
fact that they are subject to the criteria of the Na- 
tional Register, an administrative decision that is 
apparently irrevocable.'' 

The process by which cultural landscapes are 
identified, documented, analyzed, and evaluated— 
literally, how their history is written as landscapes- 
has wide-ranging consequences for their interpreta- 
tion and management.' In a fairly prescribed path, 
NPS landscape histories focus on an interdiscipli- 
nary account of the landscape's natural processes 
and built forms and their evolution through time, 
including a thorough documentation of existing con- 
ditions. They conclude with an analysis and evalua- 
tion based on "landscape characteristics, " largely tan- 
gible elements ranging in scale from natural sys- 
tems and features defining a river corridor to small- 
scale site features such as stone steps. ^ A glaring 
disjuncture exists in the relegation of "cultural tradi- 
tions" and "ethnographic information" to the level 
of a definable characteristic, in deference to National 
Register typological description. In reality, these are 
the bulwarks of interpreting landscapes as cultural 
in the first place (Page 1 998:53). 

However flexible and adaptive the documentation 
process may be according to the historical circumstances, 
its analysis and evaluation rest on a common theme: 
the level of change and disruption between a deter- 
mined "period of significance" based on the legibility 

of "contributing" or "non-contributing" resources with 
the landscape's present "condition." According to 
the National Register, a particular landscape's physi- 
cal history is primarily a linear chronology in which 
a period of significance is established as the bench- 
mark by which all landscape change can be mea- 
sured. This evaluation of the degree and level of change 
between a landscape's period of significance and its 
present condition culminates in a determination of "in- 
tegrity," or its ability to reflect historical values through 
the surviving physical resources, and thus its viabil- 
ity in National Register terms. This, in turn, leads to 
a statement of significance setting forth heritage 
values based on an interpretation that may or may 
not fully correspond to the panoply of meanings in 
any particular landscape. 

In spite of the philosophical questions posed by 
the cultural landscape paradigm to the National 
Register's template of American history, the artifactual 
underpinnings of this methodology remain, begging 
the still unanswered question: how relevant is a deter- 
mination of national significance when cast in a largely 
predetermined structure of census? In many respects, 
this institutional process creates its own alternative land- 
scape history, one that represents an artificial, exter- 
nally driven typology. 

This tethering of cultural landscape work in the na- 
fional parks to the rigid methodology of the National 
Register has distinct implications for understanding land- 
scapes as heritage, particularly those with deep ties to 
Native American history. It presents, at best, a frail 
compromise between incorporating some themes of 
Native American history (in terms of archaeology, Euro- 
American settlement contact, and battlefields) and not 
including them at all. What the National Register has 
not provided is a framework within which Native Ameri- 
can history is not only actively written, but commemo- 
rated in terms of associated peoples' homelands, 
memory-places, and as fields of encounter where land- 
scape is ethnographically constructed as cultural 
place— in a word, heritage. This cumbersome alliance 



creates and represents histories of place to fit a physi- 
cal template that is inherently unequal and incomplete 
in its understanding of the processes (read: worldviews) 
of non-Euro-American cultures and their landscapes. 
Despite the policy that all cultural landscapes are to be 
managed as cultural resources, regardless of significance, 
programmatic ties between the cultural landscapes pro- 
gram and the National Register heavily influence the 
way that landscapes are perceived in the National Park 
Service. It is an uneasy fit, primarily because of the 
juxtaposition between the National Register standards 
and the fluid complexity of landscapes as evolution- 
ary processes. 

Despite the restrictive conventions, however, deci- 
phering cultural landscapes in the national parks has 
broadened the scope of the National Register. While 
there is gradual acceptance of cultural landscapes in 
the Register formats, the ambiguities inherent in a mul- 
tidimensional resource, such as a landscape, present 
substantial challenges to a typological construction of 
history and place; change is slow in coming.'^ As an 
example, the inclusion of landscape characteristics in 
National Register terminology, however peripheral, does 
begin to contextualize cultural landscapes as assem- 
blages of artifacts, especially at the scales of land use 
and spatial arrangement. In other ways, elements such 
as circulation and vegetation, and topography now 
describe and document salient aspects of physical 
landscapes alongside more traditionally associated 
material features such as archaeological sites, build- 
ings, and structures. Clearly, the construction of heri- 
tage shaped by cultural landscapes is one in which 
newer definitions of landscape as cultural process, 
for example, can play a larger role. But, such defini- 
tions clearly threaten the ideological structure of 
the National Register as a heritage department be- 
cause of their very nature as ambiguous, subjective, 
and contingent. 

The difficulty ensues in the latitude of interpreta- 
tion and the hierarchy of importance with which certain 
characteristics may possess integrity, while others, such 

as cultural traditions and ethnographic features, which 
clearly continue to have an influence over the con- 
temporary landscape, do not. Characteristics such as 
topography and natural systems can be only documented 
to a certain degree during the various periods of any 
landscape history, especially when pictorial evidence, 
such as aerial photographs, are unavailable. However, 
the rate and scale of change in these characteristics is 
far different than for a set of buildings or, for that matter, 
the cultural traditions associated with land use. How, 
then, is a standard of integrity for these characteristics 
to be measured in a period of significance and beyond, 
when incredibly differing sets of variables are in play? 
The Register's delineation of property types as "ob- 
ject," "site," or "district" do not reflect basic landscape 
processes, which are more appropriately defined in an 
ecological context of patch, edge, corridor, and mosaic 
(Dramstad et al. 1996:14-6). This is even more the 
case when dealing with the processes of cultural for- 
mation, identity, and belonging, and how they shape 
landscapes in terms of heritage and commemoration, 
issues that cannot be simply reduced to a few bulleted 

In other words, what may be significant in the his- 
toric value structure of the National Register is more 
than likely not as significant when considering the in- 
herent, site-specific qualities of cultural landscapes. 
Codification of heritage values in the National Regis- 
ter plays an important role in the protection of historic 
properties, but as a method by which history is written, 
its internal semantics and syntax do not reflect the di- 
verse richness and the interpretive opportunities, a lit- 
eracy if you will, that a less culturally exclusive read- 
ing of landscapes can offer. The recalling of history in 
memory-places, whether in mythic or linear terms, re- 
shapes each landscape in a distinctly cultural footprint 
depending on who is telling the story, and how it is 
told. Battlefields and territorial trails become the loci 
of wildly variant cultural interpretations: conquest or 
defeat, survival or extinction, sustenance or loss. All 
are heritage. 



Consider, for instance, a definition of landscape as 
a mosaic of ecosystems reflecting different degrees of 
anthropogenic change, one that critically alters the his- 
torical perception of place as it is contextually explored 
at different scales and with different vocabularies. The 
inherent morphology of landscapes is the one histori- 
cal constant that we can potentially discern; how it 
affects the course of history is a matter open for inter- 
pretation. Utilizing environmental history as the me- 
dium in which a site history is forged, for example, 
radically changes the landscape story of historic and 
cultural events. In this scenario, battlefields become 
ecotones, where the patterns of open fields and 
woodlots, hedgerows and an internal rhythm of irriga- 
tion ditches heavily influence the strategies and out- 
comes of battlefields. In other places, wildernesses are 
hunting grounds, berry-picking patches, sacred healing 
sites reflecting a millennial occupation and accretion 
of ecological knowledge. 

This recognition is particularly salient when con- 
sidering the potential of cultural landscapes methodol- 
ogy to address ethnographic— in this case Native Ameri- 
can—histories of place in the national parks. The case 
of Glacier Bay National Park explored later in this 
volume (see Norton, part 3) reflects the vulnerability of 
Euro-American worldviews that frame and interpret land- 
scapes as consensual heritage. Challenging current 
interpretation of the park as a wilderness, the land- 
scape history of Glacier Bay reveals the persistence 
of traditional knowledge, association, and use of these 
lands as homelands and places of cultural signifi- 

As with much of the landscape history research tied 
to the National Register, the transposition of a gener- 
ally perceived Eastern mindset (e.g., design-oriented) 
to the Alaska and the American West is problematic 
because of the scale and dispersed settlement patterns 
in these vast landscapes. Adding to this complex brew 
is the general bias against acknowledging cultural land- 
scapes in which the material cultural remains are barely 
legible, if at all, in physical terms, a prejudicial conse- 

quence of the dominance of artifactual typology. This 
discrepancy is especially telling in the case of most 
historic Native American cultures that were predomi- 
nantly nomadic or non-agrarian, again particularly rel- 
evant to Alaska Natives. Their landscape histories are 
ones of cyclic movements in large subsistence territo- 
ries, thus affording little opportunity or need for creat- 
ing permanent settlements and cultural traces typical 
of Euro-American landscapes. It also diminishes the 
importance and interconnectedness of traditional sites 
considered integral to cultural maintenance and sur- 
vival, such as sacred and mythological places within an 
overall territorial landscape. 

But map is not territory, or not at least, as Wendell 
Berry opined, "the territory underfoot" (Ryden 1 993:208). 
Landscape history, although speciously articulated 
through generic templates defining, analyzing, and 
evaluating somewhat discrete characteristics, has a 
greater potential than the conventional documentation 
proponents will admit at present. What is needed is a 
contextual reading of landscape dimensions that have 
remained heretofore virtually invisible, uncovering the 
patterned complexities, site-specific configurations that 
direct our perception of landscape as a repository of 
heritage-in-process, rather than the flawed static history 
of an artifact assemblage. 

As we have seen, part of the problem is definitional 
in character. The greatest vulnerability of cultural land- 
scapes lies in the institutional mandate to articulate 
and preserve "resources," in this case, environments 
dramatically different in scale and composition from 
the more architecturally and archaeologically derived 
"sites, buildings, and objects." In delineating the "four 
general types of cultural landscapes," as "not mutually 
exclusive . . . historic sites, historic designed landscapes, 
historic vernacular landscapes, and ethnographic land- 
scapes" (Birnbaum 1 994: 1 ), the fundamental difficulties 
in defining landscapes by external categories are clear. 
One cultural landscape, potentially, could be perceived 
as a historic site, a historic vernacular landscape, and 
an ethnographic landscape depending on how the 



landscape context was developed from tangible, and 
sometimes intangible, resources. In many respects, the 
least ambiguous cultural landscape type is that of the 
historic designed landscape, one in which intention 
and execution of a formalized plan can be pegged, 
without much ado, to a time period, style, master de- 
signer, and craftsmen. Historic sites and vernacular land- 
scapes are, by contrast, subject to a greater range of 
interpretation, especially when considering multiple 
periods of significance in the case of long periods of 
settlement history, for example. 

The idea of the "ethnographic landscape" in this 
range of landscape definitions is much more compli- 
cated. Defined as "a landscape containing a variety of 
natural and cultural resources that associated people 
define as heritage resources," this type of landscape is 
also within the purview of the NPS ethnography pro- 
gram. The key distinguishing element between the two 
programs is often explained as the determination of 
historical significance according to National Register 
standards and criteria, as opposed to the more purely 
ethnographic conception of landscape intrinsically tied 
to a particular culture's association, practices, and rec- 
ognition of valuable resources. In addition, the man- 
date that all cultural landscapes are to be managed as 
cultural resources regardless of significance is a compli- 
cation that is rarely argued within the cultural land- 
scapes program itself. Without the ability to identify 
and document landscapes as ethnographic in Alaska, 
for instance, many cultural landscapes in its national 
parks would be overlooked, and silences in the histori- 
cal record multiplied. 

In truth, it is difficult to argue the difference be- 
tween "ethnographic" and "cultural" when applied to a 
more holistic and evolving concept of landscape 
rather than the staid institutional definitions (Spirn 
1998:16; Corner 1999:5). Regardless of the seman- 
tic baggage, the inclusion of ethnographic landscapes 
as a unique venue of study is critical to the cultural 
landscapes program and to the parks as a whole. It 
portends recognition, ethnographically conceived in a 

landscape model, of the traditional values and associa- 
tions of a particular community for a certain place. In 
the case of the national parks, notably many in the 
Southwest and Alaska regions, ethnographic landscapes 
are most commonly associated with Native American 
people; however, the range of ethnographic designa- 
tions is not limited to indigenous groups. '° The key 
question here is whether or not the definition of 
ethnographic landscapes reflects a viable portrait of 
landscape as heritage from the "bottom up." The sheer 
weight of Native American historical involvement 
with the lands that are now national parks speaks to 
the exigency in understanding these landscapes as 
cultural places, especially when considering the mat- 
ter of "ancestral homelands" (National Park Service 

Even with the antiquarian context of the Na- 
tional Register and its implications for writing his- 
tories of place, the documentation and manage- 
ment of park lands as cultural landscapes is cen- 
tral, albeit imperfectly defined, to the mission of 
heritage preservation. The cultural landscape para- 
digm continues to prove elusive of quantification 
primarily because it represents a resource base in 
flux. The implications for landscape as heritage, 
then, depend on how the landscape is perceived 
as a dialogical process between people and envi- 
ronment, its internal discourse revealed through 
stories not bound by external strictures. The more 
inclusive and interdisciplinary the landscape his- 
tory, the more complicated and richly embroidered 
the cultural stories told and preserved. In attempt- 
ing to reveal the scale and complexity of heritage 
resources in the resilient landscape paradigm, how- 
ever, it becomes clear that history, apparently, is a 
messy business. 

Traditional Cultural Properties: The Prom- 
ise of Ethnographic Landscape Histories 

If National Register property types and criteria for 
evaluating significance prove an uneasy fit with cul- 



tural landscape preservation in general, the typo- 
logical miscasting is even more apparent when con- 
sidering ethnographic landscapes, especially those 
generally associated with Native Americans. In the 
NPS, the differing objectives of the cultural landscapes 
and ethnography programs with respect to ethnographic 
landscapes can hinge not only on the identification of 
these landscapes and the construction and significance 
of their histories, but also on the means by which 
they can be preserved. While National Register eli- 
gibility is a thorny issue for both programs, one as- 
pect is clear: it provides some degree of account- 
ability, i.e., legal protection from adverse impacts, in 
the typological recognition of certain ethnographic 
landscapes as "Traditional Cultural Properties," com- 
monly referred to as TCPs." 

In an attempt to increase the diversity of historic 
property types, the National Register developed the 
designation of traditional cultural property, a category 
in cultural associations are "(1) rooted in the history of 
a community, and (2) important to maintaining the con- 
tinuity of that community" (Parker 1993:1). The goal 
was to expand the definition of significance to include 
"traditional cultural significance," thereby setting the 
stage for recognition of ethnographic landscapes as 
protected heritage resources. By the National Register 
definition, the term "traditional" was not meant to be 
evocative, but rather to refer to a body of knowledge 
specific to a contemporary culture: 

"Traditional" in this context refers to those 
beliefs, customs, and practices of a living 
community of people that have been passed 
down through the generations, usually orally 
or through practice. The traditional cultural 
significance of a historic property, then, is 
significance derived from the role the prop- 
erty plays in a community's historically 
rooted beliefs, customs, and practices 
(National Register 1994:1). 

Thus, the central determinant of a property's heritage 
value, the assertion of significance, shifted from an ex- 
ternally driven paradigm (e.g., formulas of theme and 
context) to one that is communally based, providing 

the initial guidance for historic preservation professionals 
to acknowledge alternative versions and constructions 
of history and its importance as heritage. For example, 
privileging oral history as evidence, concepts of tradi- 
tional time and chronologies of events, and the au- 
thentication of place value from within a traditional 
community's perspective all represent distinctly differ- 
ent methodologies from the standard National Regis- 
ter process. 

Perhaps the most striking difference between the 
National Register's approach toward traditional cultural 
properties and other historic properties centers on a 
reformulation of the concept of historic significance 
with relationship to time. The significance of a tradi- 
tional cultural property is predicated on its association 
with a community that maintains traditional knowledge. 
In other words, that knowledge is integral to the preser- 
vation of a unique identity, its heritage, in which the 
past, present, and future are all inextricably bound 
through stories, songs, genealogy, and most importantly, 

This condition of continuity and association with a 
contemporary culture is essential. It allows the prop- 
erty to be identified, documented, analyzed and evalu- 
ated, ostensibly, from the consensual perspective of 
the community, or an emic perspective that conflates 
the categories of past and present. Here, the past is 
never really past, but part of the present. While some 
have described this difference as one between linear 
and cyclic conceptions of time, it is probably more the 
case that, instead of a concatenation of events spread 
through time, a traditional community is more apt to 
view the present as a series of layers in which pri- 
mordial time and everyday, quotidian reality are in- 
distinguishable, defying David Lowenthal's (1 988) de- 
scription of the past as a "foreign country." Using 
J.B. Jackson's analogy, there is no Golden Age pe- 
riod of significance or linear chronology in which 
resources must reside (Jackson 1 980:1 00-1 ). Instead, 
the resources are as integral today as they were at 
any point in the past. In a traditional cultural prop- 



erty, at least theoretically, the past and present con- 
verge in the awareness that heritage is an active 
process of construction. The maintenance and pres- 
ervation of traditional cultural properties ensure the 
survival of essential knowledge. Without them, the 
community's history would be impoverished and cul- 
tural survival in jeopardy. 

And while this represents a significant advance in 
broadening the scope of protection afforded to cul- 
tural places, in many ways it creates more questions 
than it answers. Analogous to the uneasy fit between 
landscapes and National Register property types, con- 
texts, criteria, and significance evaluations, the argu- 
ments for the creation of TCPs are also convoluted, 
limited by terminology, and not fully expressive of the 
heritage values at stake. '-^ Take, for example, the idea 
of place embodied in an ethnographic landscape. First, 
the place must be defined as a physical "property." For 
many traditional cultures, the definition of an impor- 
tant place is a measure of its significance in bringing 
the present world into being, a compelling difference 
from mere physical description. Place history cannot 
be described solely by geomorphology, natural sys- 
tems, land use patterns, or, even less, its dates of dis- 
covery, exploration, and settlement. In other words, the 
sense of history in traditional terms seen through 
landscape is a radically different model of the past; 
its definition of authority, time, and space flies at 
odds with an arguably antiquarian definition of na- 
tional heritage embodied by the National Register 
(cf. Griffiths 1996:1-2). 

In the case of traditional cultural properties, the term 
"traditional history" is particularly appropriate, suggest- 
ing that "the history that members of an ethnic or other 
community tell about themselves in their own terms" is 
not only associative— in effect, its claim by a contem- 
porary community— but historically legitimate as well. 
However, the implications of a traditional history en- 
tail a sweeping revision, or at least a restructuring, of 
historical values and, ultimately, heritage construction 
when fully explored: 

A traditional history can encompass beings, 
acts, and events that are (in an analytic 
sense) plainly mythical or legendary, as well 
as oral tradition, oral history, and conven- 
tional history. The test of validity of a 
traditional history is not whether the recount- 
ing of events is accurate when taken literally. . . 
but whether a particular reconstruction is 
culturally valid and accurate. If a society 
accepts the mythic and legendary elements 
either literally or symbolically and the 
reconstruction is culturally valid (that is, 
consistent with appropriate cultural stan- 
dards), then it must be accepted as a valid 
reconstruction of the past, no matter what 
literally impossible or fantastic beings or 
events it incorporates (Downer et al. 

This entails a heady mix of tangible and intangible ele- 
ments which begins to turn the neatly prescribed world 
of the National Register on its head. Writing a history 
of place as landscape always involves a cultural re- 
construction. In the case of ethnographic landscapes 
or traditional cultural properties, however, generally 
accepted categories of definition become suspect. Who 
determines the "integrity" or critical mass of tangible 
and intangible resources and associated values that 
can be materially ascribed to a cultural place so that it 
can be read as distinctive? Who, in essence, has the 
authority, the authentic voice to write this history, con- 
struct this heritage among groups competing for own- 
ership of a particular landscape? Traditional history, as 
defined above, relies on a completely different histori- 
ography, a genealogy of place with origins in both 
physical and spiritual worlds that inform its significance. 

What, for instance, constitutes a "property"? How 
are its boundaries drawn? More often than not, a sweep 
of the hand while a story is being told, rather than a 
line drawn on a map, is more indicative of the cultural 
delimitations of a traditional place. Mainstream land- 
scape histories rely heavily on the legal concept of 
property ownership based on survey and deed, seen 
as an objective, quantifiable standard of measurement. 
This is not to say that ideas of property did not exist in 
the traditional worldview. In fact, acknowledged terri- 
torial rights were key to the functioning of resource 



procurement regions and large trade networks, and 
the source of centuries of war among tribes through- 
out much of indigenous America. However, attempt- 
ing to determine where an ethnographic landscape, 
as a traditional cultural property, begins and ends 
can be the grounds for serious contention and di- 
vergent interpretations. 

How is the concept of "integrity" applied to tradi- 
tional knowledge of place? The matrix of natural and 
cultural resources— the interconnectedness of landforms, 
watersheds, corridors, habitats and ecosystems with the 
cultural evolution of a people— is, in many ways, a 
distillation of the core of cultural ways of knowing and 
experiencing place as homelands. It involves preser- 
vation of larger narratives, of languages and customs, 
embodied in the physical container of landscape, not 
just those resources that reflect a certain period of his- 
torical time and that have survived to an appropriate 
degree of recognition. 

And, ultimately, issues of information, confidential- 
ity, and intellectual property become paramount in the 
identification of traditional cultural properties. If sites 
are identified as sacred, for example, this becomes a 
matter of public record. The access to and release of 
information, even with the goal of protecting traditional 
values in a community's heritage is often, if not more 
than likely, at odds with the very public act of designa- 
tion to the National Register. 

Questions abound. In the case of ethnographic land- 
scapes, how is an evolutionary dialogue of people and 
place captured in a template such as a TCP nomina- 
tion? Is the character of the place itself, as defined by 
the "associated people," revealed in this process, en- 
suring that an appropriate definition of "heritage re- 
sources"? Are the standards of the National Register 
and NFS management policy elastic enough to address 
the sophisticated, alternative visions of history and sig- 
nificance that emerge from the perspectives of associ- 
ated peoples? Is there a common ground for under- 
standing parks as negotiated terrain in which the layers 
of a particular cultural landscape can be integrated rather 

than juxtaposed as mutually exclusive? 
Landscape as Heritage 

Certainly one of the most impressive international ef- 
forts to deal with the documentation and commemora- 
tion of ethnographic landscapes is that of Parks Canada 
(Buggey 1999, see also Buggey, this volume). Poten- 
tial applications of the Parks Canada model within the 
National Park Service and the National Register of His- 
toric Places would advance the emerging issues of 
Native American homelands and the significance of 
writing their landscape histories from an ethnographic 

Tackling the complex issues of aboriginal world- 
views and landscape values from an interdisciplinary 
perspective, Buggey's landmark study (1999) was not 
an academic exercise, but a pragmatic advance in heri- 
tage discourse. As a prototype, the study incorporated 
international efforts underway to recognize indigenous 
history and heritage by reiterating the indivisibility of 
natural and cultural place significance. In other words, 
places recognized for natural significance were also 
significant in terms of the process of cultural associa- 
tion and identification, not relying on static physical 
remains as the prime determinant. 

Buggey proposed the designation of "aboriginal 
cultural landscapes" as away of conceiving indigenous 
heritage that could be rigorously documented, evalu- 
ated, and protected in terms of culture-specific values 
while contributing to Canadian history as a whole: 

An Aboriginal cultural landscape is a place 
valued by an Aboriginal group (or groups) 
because of their long and complex relation- 
ship with that land. It expresses their unity 
with the natural and spiritual environment. 
It embodies their traditional knowledge 
of spirits, places, land uses, and ecology. 
Material remains of the association may 
be prominent, but will often be minimal 
or absent (Buggey 1999:35). 

The language bears some similarity to the National 
Register's designation of Traditional Cultural Property 
and the NPS definition of ethnographic landscapes; but 



the underlying argument represented a major change 
toward constructing heritage from a landscape per- 
spective, with or without the critical matrix of physical 
remains. In doing so, it reformed preservation discourse 
by emphasizing the intangible basis of an emplaced 
cultural identity. The idea of aboriginal cultural land- 
scapes rested on the crucible of a sense of belonging, 
whether in memory of historic events or in evoking 
homelands, as a result of longstanding ties to particu- 
lar environments regardless of their protected status 
as parks. The concept of aboriginal cultural landscapes 
recontextualized the production of history as heritage. 
It expanded the parameters of how history is con- 
structed, its cultural authenticity, and its physical loca- 
tion in a landscape, portraying a highly unique geogra- 
phy of time, formation, and belief. 

Implicit in this reformulation is the process by which 
landscapes would be evaluated for their historical sig- 
nificance in terms of aboriginal history's ability to "il- 
lustrate or symbolize in whole or in part a cultural tra- 
dition, a way of life, or ideas important in the develop- 
ment of Canada," including their cartographic determi- 
nation ("boundaries") and the interrelated character of 
the heritage values, natural and cultural. Perhaps the 
most dramatic change toward a landscape-based heri- 
tage was the assertion that the concept of "integrity," 
the lynchpin for a site's eligibility for the American 
model of a National Register of Historic Places based 
on physical resources, "will not normally be essential 
to understand the significance of an Aboriginal cultural 
landscape, and will not therefore generally apply" 
(ibid.:38).The implications of this deconstruction of in- 
tegrity are enormous. 

By developing the concept of the "aboriginal cul- 
tural landscape" as distinct from other commemorative 
landscapes related to Euro-American history, the unique- 
ness and applicability of this model cannot be under- 
stated. While the process may appear, on the surface, 
as a reassembling of bureaucratic definitions, the 
implications of the new guidelines proposed for 
Canada's aboriginal cultural landscapes are, in real- 

ity, point toward a radical departure from the ways in 
which history is constructed as heritage in national parks 
based on the American model of preservation. Quite 
simply, the concept of aboriginal cultural landscapes 
as proposed by Parks Canada holds great promise for a 
new model in the National Park Service, one that would 
institute a more sophisticated historical sensibility 
with respect to Traditional Cultural Properties. In their 
current delineation, the TCPs still respond to the Na- 
tional Register's overall ideological framework of in- 
tegrity-based significance resting predominantly on 
physical evidence recognized with categorical distinc- 
tions. Specifically, the ability to determine the histori- 
cal significance of these indigenous landscapes sug- 
gested by the Parks Canada definitions, either in 
parks or as commemorative sites in themselves, rep- 
resents a critical leap in thinking because it acknowl- 
edges the legitimacy of alternative history, the abil- 
ity of the landscape paradigm to represent that his- 
tory as heritage, and by implication, the need to 
develop preservation and conservation mandates 
to protect this unique heritage. 

This restructuring of heritage domains suggested 
by Parks Canada and its potential for the TCP nomina- 
tions in the NPS and its National Register process is no 
mean feat. It holds incredibly rich prospects for under- 
standing the process of landscape as both text and 
texture constructed by the people for whom it holds 
historical meaning, the essence of the idea of home- 
lands. It is also a cultural project directed toward the 
preservation of place knowledge by incorporating in- 
digenous values into the federal purview of preserva- 
tion in several key ways. First, the proposal of com- 
memorating history by designating "aboriginal cultural 
landscapes" eliminates the rather vague conceptual 
application across ill-defined and indeterminate cul- 
tural groups suggested by the NPS cultural landscape 
version of "ethnographic landscapes." The designation 
of "aboriginal cultural landscape" focuses specifically 
on the heritage of First Nations (Native Americans), the 
repatriation of cultural knowledge and its validation of 



indigenous worldviews of a given landscape as, for 
example, a homelands or memory-place. A new em- 
phasis that establishes Native American cultural land- 
scapes as distinctive will profoundly influence the ways 
in which this heritage is documented, preserved, and 
interpreted as integral to its institutional mission. This 
is particularly crucial at a time when new park units are 
created to commemorate Native American history, such 
as Washita and Sand Creek battlefields, as well as the 
emerging recapitulation of long-standing ideologies of 
exclusion at places like Mesa Verde and Little Bighorn. 
In addition, pitched legal battles over resource use are 
increasing the need for histories to reveal the rich as- 
sociations and legacy of Native American ironically 
enough, because indigenous traditional ecological 
knowledge may be the keystone bolstering legal argu- 
ments for natural resource protection in the parks. If 
the recent Environmental Impact Statement address- 
ing vessel quotas in Glacier Bay National Park is 
any indication, the controversies endemic to a con- 
flict of interest between the "pleasuring grounds" of 
national parks and the stewardship of the vital re- 
sources are far from resolution (National Park Ser- 
vice 2003). 

Secondly, writing traditional histories of Native 
American cultural landscapes accords the oral traditions, 
stories, and beliefs held by associated communities as 
the standards by which these landscapes are deemed 
significant. This methodology relies on intimate famil- 
iarity with forms of traditional knowledge about land- 
scapes, reestablishing cultural geographies and their 
implicit values regardless of park boundaries or visible 
traces of cultural association. The authenticity of land- 
scape histories, from this perspective, could influence 
park planning and management decisions on the ground 
floor. Examples could include, for instance, a new un- 
derstanding of the integrity of ecological processes 
(such as the maintenance of previously off-limits natu- 
ral resource areas as cultural grounds of resource har- 
vesting, e.g., the Tlingit berrying grounds at Dundas 
Bay—see Norton, this volume), redefining individual 

archaeological properties within a larger landscape con- 
text, revising wilderness designations in places where 
cultural associations clearly indicate traditional habita- 
tion and use, and transforming definitions of historic 
"property" and "boundary" into a matrix of interpen- 
etrating zones of interaction and encounter that shift 
eventually, such as tribal and clan territories. The com- 
memoration of Native American history adds a pal- 
pable richness and depth to the visited landscapes, 
opening an experiential realm that strengthens a sense 
of place, even in its most contentious and conflicted 

And finally, the transformation of the existing eth- 
nographic landscape definition and National Register 
paradigm within NPS requires the revision of an artifac- 
tual model of historic preservation to one that incor- 
porates a more fluid construction of heritage as cul- 
tural difference. Analogous to the recasting of muse- 
ums as active "keeping places" rather than collection 
centers with culture on display, abandoning the object- 
based curation of a historical landscape creates the 
opportunity to understand parks as critical proving 
grounds (Griffiths 1996:219-36). And resonating the 
policy statements in "Parks for the 2P' Century," this 
transformation embodies an imperative of cultural con- 
servation by restoration in the truest sense of the word, 
re-storying place with seamless histories of environ- 
ment and people, nature and culture. 


1 . The NPS defines an ethnographic landscape 
as "a landscape containing a variety of natural and 
cultural resources that associated people define as 
heritage resources. Examples are contemporary settle- 
ments, religious sacred sites and massive geologi- 
cal structures. Small plant communities, animals, sub- 
sistence and ceremonial grounds are often compo- 
nents" (Birnbaum 1 994:2). Similarly, the NPS ethnog- 
raphy program defines ethnographic landscapes as 
"a relatively contiguous area of interrelated places 
that contemporary cultural groups define as mean- 
ingful because it is inextricably and traditionally 
linked to their own local or regional histories, cul- 



tural identities, beliefs and behaviors. Present-day 
social factors such as a people's class, ethnicity, and 
gender may result in the assignment of diverse mean- 
ings to a landscape and its component places" (Evans 
and Roberts 1999:7). 

2. Examples include the idea of "wilderness" 
and "wilderness planning" along with "habitat res- 
toration." Such paradigms often insist upon their 
scientific rationale as a proof validating manage- 
ment approaches, disallowing their own historic- 
ity as theories of nature which have, themselves, 
been subject to change (Griffiths 1996; Nelson 
1998; Reich 2001). 

3. The use of the Antiquities Act waned after 
its heyday in the years of the New Deal, but its util- 
ity as a way of designating heritage areas continues 
to the present day. In 2000, President Bill Clinton 
invoked the Antiquities Act to create the Canyons 
of the Ancients National Monument in southwest 
Colorado, consisting of 1 64,000 acres of the highest 
known archaeological site density in the United 

4. A number of battlefields, mostly related to 
the Civil War, were transferred from the War Depart- 
ment to the Department of the Interior in 1 933. 

5. "The National Register is the official Federal 
list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and ob- 
jects significant in American history, architecture, 
archaeology, engineering, and culture. These con- 
tribute to an understanding of the historical and cul- 
tural foundations of the Nation. The National Regis- 
ter includes: All prehistoric and historic units of the 
National Park System; National Historic Landmarks, 
which are properties recognized by the Secretary 
of the Interior as possessing national significance; 
and Properties significant in American, State, or 
local prehistory and history that have been nomi- 
nated by State Historic Preservation Officers, Fed- 
eral agencies, and others, and have been approved 
for listing by the National Park Service" (National 
Register 1 991 :i). See also Murtagh 1 997; Tomlan 

6. NPS policy on the relationship of cultural 
landscapes to the National Register of Historic 
Places, and the enforcement of Register standards 
and criteria for these landscapes is outlined in 
Director's Order 28. The administrative conflict of 
interest between the Cultural Landscapes Program 
and the Ethnography Program's joint interest in 

documenting ethnographic landscapes is under- 
played in the discussion of their separate roles 
and responsibilities (National Park Service 1998:87- 
91, 160-70). 

7. The two basic research avenues for cultural 
landscape study within NPS are the Cultural Land- 
scape Inventory (CLI) and Cultural Landscape Re- 
ports (CLR). Both develop landscape histories to dif- 
fering degrees. The basic difference between the CLI 
and CLR is that the Inventory is used as baseline 
identification and evaluation of the cultural land- 
scape as it can be documented. Utilizing much of 
the same data and process, the CLR is a manage- 
ment document intensively geared toward preser- 
vation treatment in light of resource degradation, 
loss, threat, or proposed changes to the landscape 

8. Landscape characteristics specific to cultural 
landscape histories in NPS include spatial organiza- 
tion, land use, cultural traditions, cluster arrangement, 
circulation, topography, vegetation, buildings and 
structures, views and vistas, constructed water fea- 
tures, small-scale features, and archaeological sites 
(Page 1998:53). 

9. For the National Register's institutional re- 
sponses to defining landscapes as historic resources 
eligible for listing see National Register 1 984, 1 987, 
1992a, 1992b, 1992c. 

1 0. The term "ethnographic landscapes" typi- 
cally refers to a wide range of cultural landscapes 
of regional origin, including places associated with 
African American slave culture, urban Chinese 
settlements in Los Angeles and San Francisco, nine- 
teenth-century European immigrant farmsteads in 
the mid-West, and Puerto Rican barrios on the East 
Coast (see Alanen and Melnick 2000; Hardesty 

1 1 . By the terms of the National Historic Pres- 
ervation Act, Section 106 in regard to Traditional 
Cultural Properties, "federal agencies. State Historic 
Preservation Offices, and others who conduct activi- 
ties pursuant to environmental and historic preser- 
vation legislation are responsible for identifying, 
documenting, and evaluating them [TCPs] in plan- 
ning" (cf. Parker 1993:3). 

12. Consistent with the National Register des- 
ignations, the guidance in NRB 38, Traditional Cul- 
tural Properties, does not recognize landscapes as 
a property type, much less ethnographic landscapes. 



In fact, the word "landscape" does not appear in 
the entire document (ibid.: 1 -22). 


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M^n^Bging the ^aami 
(Cultural l^'ientage in {\]orwa 

~y~he L,ega! Landscape 

Like many, perhaps even most, other countries, Nor- 
way has over the last ten-to-fifteen years tried to imple- 
ment a cultural heritage management system that pre- 
serves not only objects, but also their contexts. This 
includes cultural landscapes where no single object 
may deserve preservation on its own, but where the 
whole landscape does. The theoretical criteria for con- 
sidering landscape preservation are very much the same 
as those used by other countries. Since these are pre- 
sented in some detail by other contributors to this pub- 
lication, this article will concentrate on how such prin- 
ciples have been incorporated into Norwegian cultural 
heritage legislation and to what extent this has changed 
practices, with special regard to the Sami cultural heri- 

The Sami [also spelled as Saami, Sami, or Same] 
have, since 1 990, been recognized as an indigenous 
people within the state of Norway. The estimated num- 
ber of Sami in Norway and elsewhere today varies from 
publication to publication. Aarseth et al. (1 990) assume 
that there are about 30 to 40,000 Sami living in Nor- 
way, while another 1 7,000 live in Sweden, about 5,700 
in Finland and about 2,000 in North-Western Russia. 
Most of the Norwegian Sami live in the two northern- 
most counties, Finnmark (25, 000) andTroms (1 2,000), 
but there are also more or less distinct pockets of Sami 
settlements further south, in the counties of Nordland, 
Nord- and Sor-Trondelag, and even in Hedmark in 
Southern Norway (Fig. 20). Historically, these should 
probably be seen as the remnants of a more continu- 
ous Sami settlement and population, that has either 

been integrated into the majority Norwegian culture or 
left to occupy niches that were of little interest to a 
predominantly agricultural Norwegian population. 

Linguistically, the Sami speak a Finno-Ugric lan- 
guage, or rather, several varieties of such a language. 
These are usually called dialects, but the differences 
between the southernmost and north-easternmost dia- 
lects are, in fact, so great that their speakers do not 
understand each other, and they ought therefore to 
be classified as different languages. This also prob- 
ably indicates that they became separated a long 
time ago. 

The Norwegian cultural heritage manage- 
ment system 

Organizational Framework 

Organizationally, the present Norwegian heritage man- 
agement system is based on a three-tier administrative 
structure, consisting of national, regional, and local au- 
thorities. The national level consists of the Ministry of 
the Environment, which is responsible for defining and 
issuing national policies and guidelines concerning 
heritage protection and management, as well as pro- 
viding the legal framework. 

Some of the goals of Norwegian cultural heritage 
management, as laid down by the Ministry, are that: 

—The distinctive character and variety of cultural 
monuments, environments and landscapes (be pro- 
tected), to ensure that information about them is 
collected, safeguarded and disseminated, 


—Cultural monuments and cultural environments 
are safeguarded as a resource and basis for experi- 
encing historical continuity, cultural history and ar- 
chitectural diversity, recognition and belonging in 
everyday life in keeping with sustainable develop- 

The practical implementation of these policies is the 
primary task of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage 
(Riksantikvaren), which is the executive arm of the Min- 
istry. The Directorate is thus responsible for the man- 
agement of all protected archaeological and architec- 
tural monuments and sites, including those that are part 
of valuable cultural environments, in accordance with 
the relevant legislation. The work includes 

—the practical implementation of the objectives 
laid down by the Norwegian Parliament and the 
Ministry of the Environment, 

—advising the Ministry as well as other parts of the 
cultural heritage management system, the public 
and industry on matters relating to cultural heritage 
management and protection, 

—ensuring that cultural heritage considerations are 
taken into account in all planning processes, 

—that the interests of cultural heritage are safe- 
guarded at all levels in the same way as the inter- 
ests of society as a whole, 

—that a representative selection of monuments 
and sites is preserved for present and future 

—and helping to increase awareness among the 
general public of the value of their cultural 

The regional level consists of county heritage officers 
dealing with Norwegian remains, while the Department 
of Environmental and Cultural Heritage within the Sami 
Parliament is responsible for Sami remains. This depart- 
ment has four sub-offices, covering all parts of the coun- 
try with a Sami population. The regional level is the 
main level for supervising and controlling the day-to- 
day interaction between developments of all sorts and 
the principles of the cultural heritage laws. 

Finally, the local level consists of the municipali- 
ties, which have the main responsibility for planning 

and structuring developments in such a way that the 
principles of the Cultural Heritage Act are followed. 
They also have the opportunities and means to imple- 
ment protection orders according to other laws, in par- 
ticular the Planning and Building Act (see below). 

Norwegian Cultural Heritage Legislation: A 
Historical Overview 

Before concentrating on the present legislation, a brief 
overview of the history of cultural heritage legislation 
in Norway will serve to put the existing Cultural Heri- 
tage Act into context. The earliest law protecting Nor- 
wegian cultural remains was the Church and Church- 
yard Act, which was introduced in 1897. In 1903-04, 
the discovery and excavation of the Oseberg Viking 
ship and the fact that the Norwegian authorities had to 
negotiate a deal with the landowner in order to buy 
and secure this important archaeological find for the 
nation, highlighted the problem of the existing private 
ownership of cultural remains on somebody's land. In 
1 905, which was also the year when the political union 
between Sweden and Norway came to an end and 
Norway regained national independence, the first 
Norwegian Ancient Monuments Act was passed. This 
Act provided automatic legal protection for cultural 
remains older than the Reformation, i.e. 1 537 A.D., and 
was primarily intended to protect grave mounds. It was, 
however, not the monuments themselves that were the 
main concern of the Act, but rather the objects they 
contained; in fact, work that necessitated excavations 
of interesting grave mounds should not be prevented. 

The Act also applied to publicly owned medieval 
buildings, but neither to those that were privately owned, 
nor to post-Reformation buildings. In 1 920, therefore, 
the Listed Buildings Act was introduced, providing a 
legal basis for the listing (designation) of buildings and 
building parts over one-hundred years of age, or even 
younger. Approximately 1 ,200 buildings were quickly 
listed during the 1 920s, and they still form the core of 
Norwegian listed buildings. 

In 1 951 , the two acts were incorporated into a new 



and revised Ancient Monuments Act, which provided 
automatic legal protection for all monuments and build- 
ings older than 1 537 A.D., and also the right to desig- 
nate monuments, historic places, old roads, bridges and 
other technical remains, irrespective of age. In addi- 
tion, it introduced the concept of "disfiguring" (i.e., de- 
velopments having a negative visual impact on monu- 
ments), and gave the authorities the right to schedule 
an area of land around any monument in order to pro- 
tect its visual impact in the landscape. 

In 1963, boats and ships over 100 years old were 
included in the Act as the property of the Norwegian 
state and, in 1 965, a new Planning Act was introduced, 
which simplified the inclusion of conservation areas in 
public planning, in order to protect valuable building 

None of these early laws addressed the question 
of Sami remains separately from the Norwegian ones. 
However, with the changing political climate of the 

20/ The number of Sdmi living today (Hcetta 1996:6) 
The darker area represent the densest concentration of 
Sdmi settlements. 

1950s and 1960s came a greater awareness and ac- 
ceptance of minority rights and state duties toward 
minority populations. Among the international conven- 
tions that Norway signed in this period, and which 
also had an impact on the national cultural heritage 
legislation, was the UN Covenant on Civil and Political 
Rights, 1966 Article 27: 

In those States in which ethnic, religious or 
linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging 
to such minorities shall not be denied the 
right ... to enjoy their own culture, to profess 
and practice their own religion, or to use their 
own language. 

It was incorporated into Norwegian legislation in 1 988 
through Amendment 11 Oa to the Norwegian Constitu- 

It is the responsibility of the Norwegian state 
to ensure favorable conditions to enable the 
Sami people to maintain and develop its 
language, culture and social structures. 

In the late 1 960s, another revision of the Ancient Monu- 
ments and Building Acts was initiated, resulting in rec- 
ommendations in 1970-71, from the committees on 
ancient monuments and buildings respectively, for a 
new and revised law. It took until 1 978, however, be- 
fore the current Cultural Heritage Act was introduced, 
and with it came the first specific legal protection of 
Sami cultural remains in Norway. The Act has since 
been amended several times, a new version was, for 
instance, introduced on January 1 , 2001 , but the basic 
provisions have remained unchanged. 

Since 1 978, Norway has also ratified several inter- 
national treaties relating particularly to the recognition 
of minorities and indigenous peoples, thereby accept- 
ing the basic principles laid down in these with regard 
to the protection of minority cultures. The most impor- 
tant of these international treaties are: 

— ILO Convention No. 1 69 concerning indigenous 
and tribal peoples in independent countries, 1 989, 
ratified by Norway on June 20th, 1990, Article 2: 

Governments shall have the responsibility 
for developing . . . measures [which 
promote] the full realization of the social. 



economic and cultural rights of these 
peoples with respect for their social and 
cultural identity, their customs and 
traditions and their institutions. 

—Agenda 21 from the World Conference on Envi- 
ronment and Development, Brazil 1992: Chapter 
26.3, Objectives: 

(a) Establishment of a process to em- 
power indigenous people and their 
communities through measures that 
include (ii) Recognition that the lands of 
indigenous people and their communities 
should be protected from activities that 
are environmentally unsound or that the 
indigenous people concerned consider to 
be socially and culturally inappropriate. 

—Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992, rati- 
fied by Norway on July 9, 1 993, Article 8(j): 

Subject to its national legislation, respect, 
preserve and maintain knowledge, innova- 
tions and practices of indigenous and 
local communities embodying traditional 
lifestyles relevant for the conservation 
and sustainable use of biological diversity 
and promote their wider application with 
the approval and involvement of the 
holders of such knowledge, innovations 
and practices and encourage the equitable 
sharing of the benefits arising from the 
utilization of such knowledge, innova- 
tions and practices. 

—The Council of Europe's Framework Convention 
for the Protection of National Minorities, 1995, rati- 
fied by Norway on June 18th, 1998, Article 5.1: 

The Parties undertake to promote the 
conditions necessary for persons belong- 
ing to national minorities to maintain and 
develop their culture, and to preserve the 
essential elements of their identity, 
namely their religion, language, traditions 
and cultural heritage. 

Norwegian Cultural Heritage Legislation: 
The Present Legal Framework 

Today, there are three main groups of Norwegian laws 
and regulations that govern the work of the local, re- 
gional and national agencies and authorities that deal 
with cultural heritage management in Norway. Each 
group contains a number of different laws covering 

specific areas, the main ones being: 

—Specialized cultural heritage management legis- 
lation, including The Cultural Heritage Act (1978) 
with later amendments. 

—Planning legislation of importance to cultural heri- 
tage management, including The Planning and Build- 
ing Act (1 985) with later amendments. 

—Legislation regulating the conduct of state agen- 
cies and the rights of the public, including The Pub- 
lic Agency (or Administration) Act (Forvaltnings- 
loven) (1 967/83), and The Freedom of Information 
Act (Offentlighetsloven) (1 970/89). 

The first two groups contain a number of regulations 
and more specialised laws, which have not been in- 
cluded here. The Cultural Heritage Act, however, is the 
most important piece of legislation, in that it sets out 
the basic goals and means of Norwegian cultural heri- 
tage legislation. The Planning and Building Act func- 
tions as the main tool for reaching some of those goals 
through active use of planning regulations at the local 
level, while the last group lays down the formal rules 
for how the work is conducted, as well as the rights of 
the public to access any relevant information. 

In addition to the national legislation, Norway is 
also a signatory to a number of international conven- 
tions and recommendations that provide a general le- 
gal basis for the protection of cultural heritage. Among 
them are for instance: 

—The European Convention on the Protection 
of the Archaeological Heritage (revised). La 
Valette, 1 992 which states: 

[The member States of the Council of 
Europe acknowledge] that the European 
archaeological heritage, which provides 
evidence of ancient history, is seriously 
threatened with deterioration because of 
the increasing number of major planning 
schemes, natural risks, clandestine or 
unscientific excavations and insufficient 
public awareness. 

—The European Landscape Convention, 2000, 
which states: 

The member States of the Council of 
Europe [are] aware that the landscape 



contributes to the formation of local 
cultures and that it is a basic component 
of the European natural and cultural 
heritage, contributing to human well- 
being and consolidation of the European 

The 1 978 Cultural Heritage Act and its Provisions 

The main principles behind the present Cultural Heri- 
tage Act are the concepts of jurisdiction and age; 
that is, the Act applies to monuments of a certain 
age within Norwegian territory. The general age limit 
is the year 1 537 A. D., the year of the Protestant 
Reformation, which historically marks the end of the 
Middle Ages in Norway. 

The same principles also apply to Sami remains. 
However, since the minority Sami culture was per- 
ceived as being more vulnerable than the majority 
Norwegian one, and also perceived to have gone 
through a different set of chronological changes, the 
line was drawn at 1 00 years, at the time meaning about 
1880, instead of 1 537. This distinction, however, also 
necessitated the introduction of a third principle into 
the law, i.e. the concept of ethnicity, since only Sami 
remains dating to between 1 537 and 1 880 were to be 
automatically legally protected. In other words, all 
monuments from this period had to be ethnically de- 
fined as Sami in order to be automatically protected 
by the Act. 

The purpose of the Cultural Heritage Act as stated 
in Section 1 is: 

To protect archaeological and architectural 
monuments and sites, and cultural environ- 
ments in all their variety and detail, both as 
part of our cultural heritage and identity and 
as an element in the overall environment and 
resource management. ... It is [seen as] a 
national responsibility to safeguard these 
resources as scientific source material [in 
particular] and as a permanent basis for the 
experience, self-awareness, enjoyment and 
activities of present and future generations. 

Monuments and sites are defined as "all traces of hu- 
man activity in our physical environment, including 
places associated with historical events, beliefs or tra- 
ditions." This means that both material remains of hu- 

man activity, as well as natural features and places 
with an associated oral or written tradition, are auto- 
matically protected if they fulfil the age criterion. Be- 
liefs and traditions will usually be of a religious or mytho- 
logical nature, which means that, for instance, Sami 
holy sites and landscapes are covered by the Act. 

The automatic legal protection means that, "no 
person shall . . . initiate any measure which is liable 
to damage, destroy, excavate, move, change, cover, 
conceal or in any other way unduly disfigure any 
monument or site that is automatically protected by 
law or to cause risk of this happening" (Sec. 3). 

Consequently, when any public or large private de- 
velopment is being planned, "the person or administra- 
tive agency in charge of the project is under obliga- 
tion to find out whether it will affect an automatically 
protected monument or site in the manner described in 
Section 3" (Sec. 9). This means submitting the plan to 
the relevant authority, i.e. the Department for Environ- 
mental and Cultural Heritage within the Sami Parlia- 
ment for Sami remains and the county heritage offic- 
ers for Norwegian remains. If the authority finds that 
the plan will affect legally protected monuments or 
sites, but the developer still decides to proceed with 
the plan, the developer must apply to the Directorate 
for Cultural Heritage, which decides "whether and, if so, 
in what way the measures may be carried out" (Sec. 8), 
for instance whether the monument(s) may be removed 
by excavation, and how extensive such excavations 
should be. Excavations have to be carried out by one 
of five authorised archaeological museums or one par- 
ticular research institute for medieval remains of cer- 
tain kinds. 

The costs involved at all levels "in investigating 
automatically protected monuments or sites or in imple- 
menting special protective measures on account of 
projects as described in Sections 8 and 9 shall be borne 
by the initiator of the project" (Sec. 1 0), i.e. the "user or 
polluter pays" principle. Only investigation costs in- 
curred for minor private projects are covered fully or 
partly by the authorities. 



The provisions described above give automatic le- 
gal protection to certain monuments, when found ei- 
ther alone or in smaller groups. They are, in other words, 
primarily object-centered. In addition, however, the Act 
allows the designation of larger areas by one of two 
different procedures. Since 1 978, Section 1 9 of the Act 
gives the Ministry of the Environment the right to 

protect an area around a protected monu- 
ment or site . . . insofar as this is necessary to 
preserve the effect of the monument in the 
environment or to safeguard scientific 
interests associated with it. 

Section 20 of the Act allows "a cultural environment 
[to] be protected by the King in order to preserve its 
value to cultural history." Cultural environments are 
defined as "any area where a monument or site forms 
part of a larger entity or context" and is thus analo- 
gous to the term "cultural landscapes" as used by the 
U.S. National Park Service (Evans et al. 2001:53). The 
provision to schedule such landscapes has only been 
contained in the Act since 1992 (Miljovernde- 
partementet 1992a, b). 

In practical terms, the outcome of using the two 
paragraphs may seem much the same, in that they give 
the authorities the right to "prohibit or otherwise regu- 
late any activity or traffic within the protected area which 
may run counter to the purpose of the protection. The 
same applies to dividing the land or leasing it out for 
the purpose of such activity." However, the underlying 
legal principles, as well as the legal procedures, are 
very different. Protection after Section 1 9 is in reality 
based on the existence of objects that are already pro- 
tected by other paragraphs of the Act and is applied in 
order to preserve their surroundings from disturbing 
elements (Finne and Holme 2001:168). It is a protec- 
tion order that can be implemented relatively easily by 
the Ministry of the Environment, either to an area with 
archaeological remains or to a built environment. The 
level of restrictions applying to objects within the area 
follows either from the Act itself, for those that are 
automatically protected by other paragraphs of the 

Act, or they are laid down by the Directorate for other 
objects (ibid.: 1 72). 

Section 20 preservation of "Cultural Environments," 
on the other hand, is not dependent on already pro- 
tected objects within the area, although such objects 
may exist, but may be introduced in order to protect a 
landscape that is seen as eligible for protection be- 
cause of its overall impact and value (ibid.: 173). This 
means that its value must be thoroughly documented 
and defined, while the scheduling procedure itself is 
slow and complicated, including thorough consultations 
with landowners, local authorities and state agencies, 
and leading eventually to a preservation order being 
confirmed by the King, i.e. the Norwegian government. 
The procedure means that preservation according to 
Section 20 is normally only afforded to landscapes 
considered to be of national importance and, so far, 
only four landscapes in Norway have been preserved 
in this way.' The purpose of the restrictions imposed is 
to preserve the overall qualities of the area that led to 
its scheduling in the first place. 

For both types of preservation, an administrative 
authority is appointed according to already existing 
legal regulations. The role of the authority is to uphold 
the restrictions imposed by the scheduling order, to 
deal with future maintenance and presentation of the 
area, as well as with applications for developments or 
changes of any sort within the area. This authority will 
be either the county heritage officer (for Norwegian 
remains) or the Sami Parliament (for Sami remains). 

While these are the only two procedures for pro- 
tecting cultural landscapes contained in the Cultural 
Heritage Act, there are other Norwegian laws that offer 
opportunities for landscape protection. The Planning 
and Building Act gives local municipalities the means 
for protecting valuable local environments if they so 
wish (Verdifulle kulturlandskap:l 14), while the Nature 
Conservancy Act also allows the preservation of valu- 
able cultural landscapes, even if valuable in this con- 
text primarily means "biologically valuable" (ibid: 1 1 6). 
However, since cultural landscapes by definition mean 



landscapes that have developed through the interven- 
tion of man, they are also likely to contain material 
cultural remains of the sort normally dealt with by the 
cultural heritage authorities. For example, a study con- 
ducted in the early 1990s (Direktoratet for natur- 
forvaltning 1994) identified twelve "valuable cultural 
landscapes" in the County of Finnmark based on bio- 
logical/botanical as well as culture historical criteria. 
One of these landscapes was Skoltebyen in Neiden, 
which in 2000 was scheduled through a Section 20 
preservation order, based on the religious and cultural 
historical importance of the site.^ 

Overall, however, local municipalities are reluctant 
to apply protection orders to areas of any size, while 
protection according to the Nature Conservancy Act 
(for instance, as National Parks) is sometimes vehemently 
opposed since it places restrictions on traditional use 
even by local people in order to protect the flora and 
fauna of the area. Such restrictions may be even more 
strongly felt in Sami areas where the use of natural 
resources in a traditional way is seen as a basis for 
maintaining the Sami culture and economy, such as 
was demonstrated in a couple of recent cases in North- 
ern Norway. 

This makes the ongoing work of implementing The 
European Landscape Convention, which Norway signed 
on October 20, 2000, as a joint venture between the 
Directorate for Cultural Heritage and the Directorate for 
Nature Conservancy, even more important when it 
comes to future landscape conservation work in Sami 
areas. A preliminary strategy document from the two 
Directorates (Direktoratet for naturforvaltning and 
Riksantikvaren 2001) was presented on December 1, 
2001, marking the start of Norway's participation in a 
four-year project to implement the Convention in 
Scandinavia. In it, the two Directorates acknowledge 
the "need to develop an understanding of the varying 
cultural importance of the landscape, depending on 
cultural and social perceptions," and that one of the 
tasks must be to "contribute to a better understanding 
locally for a multi-ethnic landscape perception and 

importance." This should be done by "developing and 
implementing procedures and undertakings based on 
contributions and participation from indigenous and 
minority groups . . . using for instance experiences 
from other countries." Acknowledging the need for a 
multi-cultural approach to landscape preservation in 
Norway, and hopefully also in Scandinavia as a whole, 
at such an early stage of implementation, should en- 
sure that these aspects are incorporated into the na- 
tional and Scandinavian strategies for future work. 

Ethnographic Landscapes 

The term "ethnographic landscapes ' as used by the U.S. 
National Park Service (Evans et al. 2001:53) has not 
hitherto been an active part of the legal or manage- 
ment language in Norway. However, it may well be 
seen to exist as a theoretical concept in the practical 
work done by the Sami Parliament when fulfilling its 
role in the cultural heritage management system of 
Norway. Unlike the archaeological surveys carried out 
according to Section 9 of the Cultural Heritage Act by 
the Norwegian county authorities in order to establish 
whether developments may interfere with protected 
cultural remains, the Sami Parliament and its predeces- 
sor, the Sami Cultural Heritage Council, have always 
insisted on establishing the broader context of any 
Sami remains within a planning area, the Sami tradi- 
tions connected with them or the area itself, and the 
history of any Sami involvement with the area. This has 
meant carrying out not only a traditional, visual survey 
of the area, but also interviewing local people and re- 
cording oral traditions and "invisible" knowledge. In 
this way, many landscapes have probably been de- 
fined as "ethnographic landscapes" by the local inhab- 
itants or users, such as the migrating reindeer herders 
and their flocks. It is as yet not clear how these differ- 
ent narratives are being, or should be, incorporated 
into the management of both Sami as well as other 
cultural remains and landscapes, especially when there 
are competing narratives constructed by different user 
groups and even different ethnic groups about the 



same landscape. The task of safeguarding Sami remains 
is formally placed with the Sami Parliament, albeit in 
cooperation with the Norwegian authorities both at 
regional and central level. At present, however, there is 
probably a tendency towards mutual exclusivity at 
the regional level when attempting to establish an of- 
ficial narrative about an area, be it small or large. This 
can be seen to originate from the wording of the law, 
with its requirement for an ethnic definition of cultural 
remains and the ensuing division of responsibility be- 
tween two different authorities. Inevitably, this leads 
to a certain polarization where any multicultural narra- 
tive tends to lose out. 

When it comes to divulging traditional knowledge, 
many Sami communities prefer to keep such knowl- 
edge secret from those who are considered outsiders, 
and this may well include the central heritage agencies 
as well as the regional Norwegian ones. The choice of 
secrecy is made either because the knowledge tradi- 
tionally has been sacred and therefore available to only 
a few, or because of fears about the consequences of 
divulging the location of sites (Husby 2001:179). Al- 
though such a view must obviously be respected, it 
creates its own problems with regard to the legal pro- 
tection of Sami remains, since the law, although in 
theory affording automatic legal protection to all Sami 
remains more than one-hundred years old, whether 
known or unknown, in practice may require monuments 
to be known in order to successfully prosecute any 
violation of this protection. For Norwegian remains, 
this requirement will soon be met by a new national 
register of both archaeological and architectural monu- 
ments, as well as protected areas and landscapes, 
through work that is currently being finalised by the 
Directorate for Cultural Heritage. This register will 
contain information from a number of smaller data- 
bases, but access to the information will be graded 
according to the questioner's status. The fact that 
a monument is listed in the register will, however, 
count as making it "known." The Sami Parliament 
has so far chosen not to incorporate its own da- 

tabases for reasons described above. 

Protection of Sami Remains in Particular 

The basis of the management of cultural remains in 
Norway can be seen as a legal landscape, where the 
articles of the law constitute the physical landscape. In 
this landscape, the concepts of jurisdiction and age are 
normally objectively verifiable and thus undisputable. 
The added provision of ethnicity as a criterion for Sami 
remains, however, introduces a cognitive and subjec- 
tive concept, which the law has difficulties dealing with 
in an adequate manner. This difficulty is therefore of- 
ten transferred to those maintaining the law and cre- 
ates a fertile ground for negotiations and sometimes 
even conflicts when the legal landscape is perceived 
in a totally different manner by the Norwegian and 
Sami authorities. 

In many ways, this situation mirrors the way in 
which the geographical landscapes of Northern 
Scandinavia have been seen and described by the 
different ethnic groups. The Norwegians have tended 
to see them as wild and untouched landscapes con- 
sisting only of geological, botanical and faunal fea- 
tures, which could be mapped and described rela- 
tively accurately in scientific terms. For the Sami liv- 
ing there, however, the same landscapes functioned 
at a very different level, as an economic as well as a 
cultural and mythological framework for their life 
and work. Translating these two opposing percep- 
tions of the same landscapes into an easily appli- 
cable legal framework has proved difficult, unless a 
great degree of pragmatism is exercised when main- 
taining the principles of the law. This article is an 
attempt to describe some of these difficulties. 

The Norwegian Cultural Heritage Act and Sami 

The Norwegian Cultural Heritage Act is often described 
as particularly beneficial to the protection of Sami re- 
mains because of the one-hundred year limit for auto- 
matic legal protection of such remains, while Norwe- 



2 1/ The old Coastal Saami communities ofSorstraumen (in the foreground) and Nordstraumen in the municipality 
of Kvcenangen, Northern Troms. The landscape contains settlement remains from the Ice Age to the present day, 
place-names, Saami and Christian religious sites, folklore and stories. 

gian remains must be four to five hundred years old in 
order to benefit from the same sort of protection. The 
reasons why a limit of one-hundred years was chosen 
for protected Sami remains are contained in the origi- 
nal committee recommendations from 1 970, which 
passed more or less unchanged into the new law it- 
self. In the recommendations, the committee described 
certain Sami cultural remains, such as sacrificial sites, 
large pitfall systems for hunting reindeer, burial grounds, 
etc., as "non-functional" elements in a modern Sami 
culture, in the same way as such ancient elements are 
in the majority Norwegian culture. The difference was 
that these elements became non-functional at widely 
differing times, since "the development involving a 
change to Christian cult, the establishment of Christian 
cemeteries and the end of the hunting society is greatly 
retarded in the Sami areas," as the recommendations 
put it. In other words, cultural elements that were aban- 
doned in the Middle Ages or even earlier in Norwegian 
areas were perceived to have survived so long in the 

Sami areas that it was necessary to draw the line at 

one-hundred years instead of 1537 A.D. in order to 

protect similar remains. 

Later government publications from the 1 980s (e.g. 

Miljoverndepartementet 1 987, 1 988) expanded on the 

reasons by describing Sami remains as 

—Representing a different culture and adaptation 
from that evidenced by Scandinavian archaeology 
and ethnology, 

—Being part of a still living tradition, but perhaps 
not for much longer, 

—Identity markers for a people with a special need 
for such markers, 

—Widespread but modest, 

—Prone to being overlooked and destroyed, espe- 
cially since it takes knowledge of the Sami culture 
to recognize them, and since they are mostly lo- 
cated in harsh environments. 

The main objectives for Sami cultural heritage man- 
agement were therefore seen as 'locating and protect- 
ing' Sami cultural remains; objectives that still remain 



valid, since our knowledge of where legally protected 
Sami remains are located, how many there are, and 
what state they are in, is still patchy. 

However, while the intentions may have been the 
best, the introduction of the concept of Sami ethnicity 
into a legal framework had two consequences: 

—Any monument dating between 1 537 (in excep- 
tional cases 1 650) and the present minus one-hun- 
dred years must be defined as Sami in order to be 
protected by the Act, 

—On the other hand, all monuments olderthan 1 537 
are automatically protected irrespective of ethnicity. 

This means that only monuments younger than 1 537 
need the ethnic label "Sami" in order to be legally pro- 
tected, and it has more or less unwittingly led to a 
perception of the term "Sami" applying only to monu- 
ments younger than 1 537. The problems are thus how 
to define monuments as Sami, and also what to do 
about the monuments that are not defined as Sami in 
the present Sami areas. 

What is a Sami Monument? 

The immediate need— once the 1 978 Cultural Heritage 
Act had been introduced— to define Sami monuments 
as such does not seem to have been realized by the 
law makers, since neither the law, nor the documents 
associated with it made any serious or stringent at- 
tempt at defining what constitutes a Sami monument, 
as opposed to the other monuments covered by the 
Act. For a number of years after the introduction of the 
Act, Sami remains and monuments were therefore de- 
fined as more or less restricted to those left by the 
reindeer herding Sami. On the whole, these remains 
were younger than 1 537, they occurred in areas not 
occupied by Norwegians or any other non-Sami eth- 
nic group, they took a form that clearly set them apart 
from Norwegian remains, and were not of particular 
interest to Norwegian archaeologists or historians. 

It is easy to see, however, that this narrow defini- 
tion of Sami remains left scope for an eventual expan- 
sion to all sides. As soon as you include the Coastal 

Sami and the Sami inland farmers in the definition of 
"Sami," you literally move into territories which for a 
long time have been occupied by several ethnic groups: 
Norwegians, Sami, and Qvens (Finnish immigrants 
mainly from the eighteenth century and later). The law, 
however, treats the remains of these groups very differ- 
ently, necessitating ethnic labels in order to establish 
whether a house site is Norwegian (and therefore 
only protected if it is olderthan 1 537), Sami (and there- 
fore protected when it is one-hundred years old) or 
Qven (not protected by the law). 

About ten years after the introduction of the Act, 
the discussion about Sami cultural heritage manage- 
ment was mainly focussed on administrative problems: 
how a future dedicated Sami cultural heritage man- 
agement system should be organized (e.g. Marstrander 
1 987); and the required educational and cultural back- 
ground for those working within the system (Fjellheim 
1 991 ; Rauset 1 990). Both subjects were, of course, im- 
portant, but— just like the law itself— the discussion 
seems to have assumed that a general consensus as to 
what constituted a Sami monument existed. For in- 
stance, Marstrander (1987:4) defines "ancient monu- 
ments" as "stationary monuments which are protected 
by the law," and includes Sami monuments in the defi- 
nition. He then goes on to define Sami monuments as 
"material remains left by Sami ways of life." 

By this time, however, the difficulties should per- 
haps have been realized on the basis of trying to 
define Sami in a politically meaningful way. With the 
establishment of the Sami Parliament in 1989 and 
the ensuing elections to choose its members, a formal 
electoral register had to be established which gave 
selective voting rights to the Sami. This meant identi- 
fying who the Sami were, i.e. who would be allowed 
to register. The accepted definition of a Sami (Helander 
1999) according to the Sami Act (1987) thus became 
someone who: 

—Speaks Sami as their first language, or had one 
parent or grandparent who did so 

—Considers himself or herself a Sami, 



22/ Reconstructing the frame for a traditional Saami turf Inouse (gammed at Nordstraumen in Kvcenangen, 
Northern Troms. 

—Lives in entire accordance with the rules of the 
Sami society, 

—Is recognised by the representative Sami body 
as Sami, 

—Has a parent who satisfies these conditions. 

The official legal definition of a Sami thus places the 
greatest importance on the use of the Sami language. 
This, however, is problematic since perhaps half the 
Norwegian Sami today do not speak the language 
any more. The Sami Act therefore had to acknowl- 
edge this historical development by extending the use 
of the language back to a parent or even a grandparent. 
Today, approximately 10,000 people have registered 
for the right to vote in elections to the Sami Parlia- 
ment, but any publication on the Sami will tell you that 
there are at least as many as 35,000 Sami in Norway 
(Aarseth et al. 1990; Haetta 1996), more likely 40 to 
45,000 (Helander 1 999), or perhaps as many as 60,000 
or even 1 00,000 (Lorenz 1 981 ). The discrepancies be- 

tween these figures may also say something about 
the difficulty of ethnic definitions, be they self-applied 
(subjective) or imposed (objective). 

An example from the municipality of Kvaenangen 
in Northern Troms^ (Fig. 21) shows the gap between 
a self-confessed ethnic identity and the unrealized 
potential resulting from using the criteria above. In 
the 1891 census, 1,016 people (or 57.4 percent of 
the population) in Kvaenangen identified themselves 
as Sami. Nearly one-hundred years later, in 1970, a 
theoretical calculation based on the language criteria 
used in the Sami Act showed that 895 people (42.9 
percent) still fulfilled the formal criteria for calling them- 
selves Sami (Bjorklund 1985:403, Table 44), but only 
twenty-four people (1 .2 percent) did so in the census. 

Today, Kvaenangen is part of Electoral District 7 for 
the Sami Parliament, together with five other munici- 
palities in Northern Troms. The population of these six 
municipalities totalled 16,759 on January 1, 2003 



(Statistisk Sentralbyra 2004), but only 741 (4.5 per- 
cent) of them were registered on the Sami electoral 
rolls in 2001 , the latest election year (up from 442 at 
the start in 1 989), and only 492 actually voted (Norut 
NIBR Finnmark 2004). It is difficult to say whether the 
figures show a general reluctance to register oneself 
on an ethnic basis, or, more specifically, on the ethnic 
basis now used for the Sami electoral rolls, i.e. the lan- 
guage criterion. 

Other researchers have tried other definitions of 
"Sami-ness." Lorenz (1981:15) says that the simplest 
definition of a Sami is "someone born to Sami parents," 
but this only defers the definition and raises slightly 
unpleasant questions about a pure-blooded Sami or 
not. What if your mother was Sami, but your father 
only half Sami? Or perhaps an academic study classi- 
fies your parents as Sami, but they themselves do not, 
having chosen to become Norwegian at a time when 
being Sami was a stigma that made life difficult? What 
does that make you? The same goes for the language 
criterion. When your mother spoke Sami as her first 
language, but now considers herself Norwegian, should 
that entitle you to claim Sami ancestry based on her 
linguistic abilities? 

One could also choose occupation as a criterion 
and say that only those still employed in the tradi- 
tional Sami livelihood of reindeer herding qualif/ as Sami, 
as the Swedes have done. In the Swedish case, this 
means that only 2,700 of Sweden's 1 7,000 Sami can 
officially be classified as such (Aarseth et al. 1 990: 1 4). 
Reindeer herding is also an industry that is generally 
portrayed as vital to the survival of the Sami culture 
in Norway today. That, however, raises the question 
of how characteristic it is of the modern Norwegian 
Sami. In 1 987, only 2,1 51 people, or about 1 percent 
or less of the Norwegian Sami, were employed mainly 
in the reindeer industry (Aarseth et al. 1990:187), de- 
spite it being an industry restricted to the Sami only. 
No livelihood figures exist for the rest of the Norwe- 
gian Sami, but studies suggest that a larger proportion 
of the Sami than of the Norwegians were employed in 

other primary industries, such as agriculture and fisher- 
ies, while fewer were employed in the service indus- 
tries. Many of these non-reindeer herding Sami, who 
for hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of years have 
lived as fishermen and later small farmers, find it diffi- 
cult to define themselves as Sami today, when the 
reindeer herding Sami are commonly used as the most 
potent symbol of Sami ethnicity. This, in turn, may also 
lead to a narrow view of which parts of prehistory will 
be defined as Sami or proto-Sami. 

The Sami Parliament itself, in its Samisk kulwr- 
minneplan 1998-2001 (Sami cultural heritage plan 
1998-2001), defines monuments as Sami when 

— A living or recorded Sami tradition is associated 
with them, 

—Local Sami knowledge associates them with a 
Sami cultural context, 

—Research results indicate that they document 
Sami history and prehistory. 

Monuments can also be defined as associated with 
Sami prehistory, i.e. they are seen as the physical mani- 
festations of those processes that led to the establish- 
ment of the historically known Sami cultural traits. This 
means that monuments dating to the earliest prehis- 
tory must be seen as the background for both a Sami 
and a non-Sami ethnicity. When they are elements of a 
present Sami cultural landscape, the Sami Parliament 
finds it natural to treat them as part of the Sami cul- 
tural heritage associated with that landscape. Conse- 
quently, the Sami Parliament defines part of its role 
within Sami cultural heritage management as promot- 
ing a long-term view of Sami history within certain 
areas. They realise, however, that since monuments 
and landscapes have different meanings to people with 
different cultural backgrounds living within these areas 
today, this presents a challenge to the cultural heritage 
management system. 

In a recent and comprehensive work on Norwegian 
cultural heritage management and its legal basis, 
Schanche (2001), expressing the views of the Sami 
Parliament, defines Sami monuments as 



23/ The old church at the island of Skorpa in Kvcenangen, Northern Troms, one of only three buildings in the 
municipality to survive World War II. A chapel was built around 1 795 as a missionary station for the still pagan 
Coastal Saami population, while the present building dates back to 1 850. The churchyard was established in 1 851 . 

—Monuments with living or recorded Sami tradi- 
tions, be they physical traces or places without any 
observable human influence, 

—Monuments that by general scientific consensus 
are defined as part of Sami history and prehistory. 

At the same time, she acknowledges that definitions 
change over time, and become progressively more dif- 
ficult the further back in time one goes. To Schanche, 
however, it is natural to include both 

—Monuments belonging to those prehistoric roots 
from which the Sami culture grew; 

Monuments that are not the result of Sami activ- 
ity, but to which Sami traditions have been attached. 

In the same study, Curibye and Holme (2001 :55), who 
represent the Norwegian government position, present 
a subtly different argument by stressing that a "Sami" 
monument must have both an ethnic and a culture his- 
torical basis, i.e. a Sami monument must be physically 

located within a present Sami context or environment 
in order to be legally recognized as such. 

A couple of examples may demonstrate the prac- 
tical difficulties involved in such ethnic classifications 
more clearly. 

One example concerns standing Sami buildings over 
one-hundred years of age which, more or less by de- 
fault, became legally protected by the 1 978 Cultural 
Heritage Act, Section 4, as discussed above. Reading 
the original recommendations for the Act today it is 
doubtful whether an automatic legal protection of all 
Sami buildings older than one hundred years was in- 
tended. As stated earlier, the recommendations were 
concerned with "non-functional" elements, but when it 
comes to buildings, still functional houses and build- 
ings are also covered by the Act, with the often severe 
restrictions this involves with regard to repairs, modifi- 
cations, modernizations, etc. This creates the need to 



define buildings as Sami, but by which criteria? Does it 
require being built in a Sami technique, such as the 
gamme shown in Fig. 22; built by a Sami; used by a 
Sami; or found in a Sami area? And what about official 
Norwegian buildings in Sami areas, such as schools 
and churches (Fig. 23): should they be regarded as Nor- 
wegian or Sami in this respect? These questions were 
studied in a three-year project initiated by the Sami 
Parliament and supported financially by the Director- 
ate. Although the project final report (Sjolie 2003) lists 
a number of criteria which can be used to establish the 
ethnic affiliation of a building, it also leaves some of 
the questions unresolved, not least those that relate to 
the establishment of Norwegian central institutions in 
Sami areas, such as churches, schools etc. 

The same confusion can also be said to apply to 
the more recent architectural landscapes of Northern 
Norway. During World War II, the whole of Norway, 
right up to the border with Russia in the north-east, was 
occupied by the German army. In 1 944, however, the 
Germans conceded defeat in the north and started re- 
treating south. The retreat was accompanied by so-called 
"scorched earth" tactics, which meant that the vast ma- 
jority of buildings in the County of Finnmark and in 
Northern Troms were burnt down, while the population 
was forcibly moved to other parts of the country. The 
devastation coincided with the main Sami population 
areas of the country and meant that very little of pre- 
war material Sami culture in most of Finnmark and 
Northern Troms survived the war. After the war, these 
districts were rebuilt by the Norwegian authorities, us- 
ing mainly standardized housing, developed by cen- 
trally employed architects. Today, it is this post-war 
architecture that characterises large tracts of Finnmark 
and Northern Troms, in Norwegian, as well as in Sami 
and Qven settlements (Fig. 24). In forty years, there- 
fore, the question will arise whether these standard 
houses should become automatically legally protected 
in Sami areas, but not in Norwegian and Qven settle- 
ments. Even the remains of German fortifications in the 
Sami areas could end up as protected "Sami monu- 

ments," since they represent a part of history that for- 
ever changed Sami culture in the north. 

Yet another example are the Sami graves in Chris- 
tian churchyards. Although the Cultural Heritage Act 
seems to accord automatic legal protection to all Sami 
graves more than one-hundred years old, Guribye and 
Holme (2001:55) claim that this protection only ap- 
plies when the whole churchyard can be classified as 
Sami on cultural historical grounds. In other words, a 
single Sami grave in an Oslo churchyard will not be 
protected— over the years many Sami have been bur- 
ied in such Norwegian contexts— while had the same 
person been buried at the Kautokeino churchyard in 
the County of Finnmark, the grave would have been 
legally protected as part of an overall Sami context. 
Another project has therefore been undertaken by the 
Directorate in order to establish which churchyards, and 
therefore graves, should be defined as Sami and there- 
fore be legally protected if more than one-hundred 
years old. So far, the project has carried out surveys in 
those municipalities in Finnmark and Northern Troms 
where at least twenty-five percent of the population 
still called themselves Sami in the official census around 
1900 (Svestad and Barlindhaug 2003; Holand forth- 
coming). It has located a number of old and aban- 
doned churchyards from the seventeenth, eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries, all of them worthy of preser- 
vation since they mostly represent the introduction of 
Christian burial rites in their respective areas. However, 
only those that are identified as Sami will, in the end, 
be afforded the automatic legal protection provided 
by the Cultural Heritage Act. 

One of the most difficult aspects of the law as it 
stands today, and one which is bound to become even 
more so in the future, is the definition of remains older 
than 1 537 A.D. as archaeological and thus by default 
the responsibility of the Norwegian regional and cen- 
tral heritage authorities. This means that all archaeo- 
logical remains are dealt with by the Norw/egian county 
heritage officers and the Norwegian executive officers 
for archaeology at the Directorate, even when these 



24/ Typical post-World War II farm buildings atSaltnes in Kvcenangen, Northern Troms. 

remains are located in Sami areas. 

In those parts of the world where Europeans, in 
particular, arrived late in time, there can be no assump- 
tion that the prehistoric remains of that area represent 
their history. Both Australia and the New World are 
good examples of this. Norway, however, is different, 
in that at least two recognized ethnic groups (the Sami 
and the Norwegians) both lay claim to the prehistory 
of the same geographical areas. The Sami historian 
Haetta (1996:14) states categorically that the Sami 
never immigrated into Northern Scandinavia, but 
evolved from the Stone Age population of the area 
and emerged as "Sami" at least 2,000 years ago (see 
also Haetta 1980). There is no doubt in his mind that 
this makes the earlier history of at least Northern 
Scandinavia Sami, in the sense that the Stone Age and 
Bronze Age peoples of the area were the direct ances- 
tors of those people that 2,000 years ago or more 
were defined or defined themselves as Sami. Aarseth 
et al. (1990:20) agree with this view, and the Sami 
Parliament, in their website presentation (http:// of the Sami, state that: 

The first people arrived in Northern 
Scandinavia about 1 1 ,000 years ago. 
Whether they were Sami, we do not know, 
but we do assume that the Sami culture 
emerged and developed from these first 
inhabitants and up to this day through 
interaction between people and culture. 
Because the Sami are the people who have 
lived the longest in this area, Norway has 
ratified ILO Convention No. 169, accepting 
the Sami as the indigenous people of 
Norway. Sweden, Finland and Russia, how- 
ever, have not yet ratified this convention. 

This view, however, is not usually expressed quite as 
explicitly in general accounts of Norwegian prehistory. 
The two referred to below are both classic works from 
the last generation, the one by Professor Anders Hagen 
of the University of Bergen (1 967/77), the other by two 
eminent South-Norwegian archaeologists, Bente 
Magnus and Professor Bj0rn Myhre (1 986). Both ac- 
counts should be seen as typical examples of how 
Norwegian prehistory is commonly presented, not as 
specific for the authors concerned. 

In their account, Magnus and Myhre point to two 
factors in Norwegian prehistory that would seem to 
have implications for the interpretation of Sami prehis- 



tory as well: 

—The existence of two distinct and different cul- 
tural patterns in Norway going back at least to the 
Early Bronze Age, perhaps as far back as the latter 
part of the Neolithic, the one being an agricultural 
culture along the Norwegian coast, perhaps stretch- 
ing as far north as the County of Troms and with 
links to continental Europe, the other being a hunt- 
ing-fishing culture in inland Scandinavia and the 
northernmost coastal parts of Norway, with links to 
Eastern cultures. 

—The continuity in settlement and subsistence pat- 
terns within this latter area, which seems to coin- 
cide more or less with the modern settlement areas 
of the Sami. 

Magnus and Myhre (1986:235, 316) trace the histori- 
cally known Sami in Eastern Finnmark back to the last 
centuries before Christ (the Pre-Roman Iron Age); the 
Sami in other parts of Northern Norway to at least the 
Migration Period (400 A.D. to 550 or 600 A.D.); and 
even suggest that the cultural border referred to above 
may point to a proto-Sami population as far south as 
the County of Hedmark in Southern Norway already in 
the Bronze Age (ibid.: 202, 319). This is consistent with 
the modern extent of Sami settlements in Norway (see 
Fig. 20). 

A good example of the continuity in settlement 
and subsistence patterns found in many Sami areas is 
the site of Mortensnes in the far northeast of Norway, 
which is described both by Magnus and Myhre 
(1 986:234-36) and Hagen (1 967/77:1 1 5). It has an ex- 
ceptionally large assembly of house sites and graves 
in particular, dating from the Mesolithic to modern times 
(K. Schanche 1 988; A. Schanche, n.d.). The graves are 
of a characteristic Sami type, i.e. located in screes, with 
some of them dating back more than 2,000 years, and 
there are also house sites and religious sites within the 
area that are generally accepted as Sami (Fig. 25, 26). 
Furthermore, the site is located in a municipality which 
even today is considered Sami, and which had an eighty- 
four percent Sami population one-hundred years ago. 

Neither Magnus and Myhre nor Hagen contest the 
fact that most remains within the Mortensnes site must 

be labelled Sami at least for the last 2,000 years, pos- 
sibly even longer. They also seem to accept that the 
Sami generally emerged as an ethnic group from the 
Stone Age and Bronze Age groups that preceded them 
in any given area. Despite this long Sami history in 
many parts of Norway, both Magnus and Myhre and 
Hagen still prefer not to identify a Sami or even "proto- 
Sami" prehistory beyond the last 2,000 years, i.e. to 
attach this particular ethnic label to prehistoric remains, 
and therefore to integrate the Sami into their account 
of the prehistory of Norway. Instead, both accounts 
settle for a few isolated pages here and there on the 
Sami. This approach, which is commonly shared by 
most other publications and scholars in Norwegian his- 
tory, has the effect of defining the Sami as different, 
marginal, and not part of the general historical devel- 
opment of Norway. On the other hand, such a view 
could be seen to coincide with the present Sami politi- 
cal wish to establish a Sami history that is separate 
and different from that of the surrounding Norwegian 

Identifying the Sami as the direct descendants of 
the Stone Age populations of certain areas of Norway 
would obviously make innumerable Stone Age settle- 
ments and monuments part of Sami prehistory, in the 
same way as such monuments are seen as part of Nor- 
wegian prehistory. In those parts of Norway that do not 
have the complications of a multi-ethnic population, 
there has never been a need to ponder whether Stone 
Age sites and rock carvings should be seen as poten- 
tially ethnically different from the present populations 
of those areas. However, when dealing with the same 
sort of remains in the present Sami or multi-ethnic ar- 
eas, there are now competing views about whose his- 
tory they represent: Norwegian? Sami?,or perhaps just 
those groups that eventually gave rise to both ethnic 
communities, but may not have represented different 
ethnicities in the past. 

One example is the World Heritage Site of the Alta 
rock carvings in Western Finnmark (Helskog 1988; cf. 
Figs. 26, 27). Professor Knut Helskog from the North- 



25/ The sacrificial stone (Craksesteinen) at l\1ortensnes in Varanger, County of Finnmark. The stone is sur- 
rounded by concentric stone circles. 

Norwegian University of Tromso, who is the foremost 
expert on the Alta rock carvings, has discussed the 
question of their ethnic identity (Helskog 1988: 1 10). 
Like the authors mentioned above, he accepts the con- 
tinuity in settlement and subsistence patterns between 
the prehistoric populations and the earliest recognised 
Sami groups in these northernmost parts of Norway, 
and that the Sami emerge as an ethnic group at least 
2,000 years ago. This, he suggests, is also the time 
when the production of rock carvings in Alta comes to 
an end, perhaps to be replaced by depictions of many 
of the same motifs on ritual drums similar to those that 
are known from later Sami contexts. He is more reluc- 
tant, however, to call the rock carvings part of Sami 

Even Professor Bjernar Olsen, also from the Univer- 
sity of Tromso, who has worked specifically with Sami 
archaeology in the County of Finnmark, is cautious 

about applying ethnic labels to the prehistory of that 
county. In his work on the prehistory of Finnmark (Olsen 
1 994: 1 39), he suggests instead: 

It may seem that there was not only an ethnic 
consolidation during this millennium [i.e. the 
last millennium B.C.], but that many of the 
formal traits that in historic time have been 
regarded as typically Sami, were formed 
during this period (IH translation). 

Another way of dealing with the controversial concept 
of a Sami prehistory is to redefine the problem as se- 
mantic: "Sami" becomes the ethnic label for a particu- 
lar group of people; "Norwegian", on the other hand, 
just means "within the present borders of Norway" and 
carries no connotations of ethnicity. Therefore, every- 
thing can be labelled Norwegian until proven Sami! 
This argument is often used within cultural heritage 
management, since it avoids the difficulties inherent in 
a multi-ethnic past. 



Archaeology and Ethnicity 

The problem of how to define ethnicity archaeologically 
is not one that is confined to Norway, nor to the rela- 
tionship between a majority and an indigenous popu- 
lation such as the Norwegians and the Sami. It is also a 
theoretical question that is part of archaeological his- 
tory, and perhaps in particular its relationship to the poli- 
tics of the day, as demonstrated by Jones (1 996, 1 997). 

In her study, Jones (1997:56) raises the questions 
"What is ethnicity?" and "How should it be defined?", 
while pointing out that the word is mostly used without 
any form of definition, even in scientific studies. As an 
example, she quotes a study where sixty-five socio- 
logical and anthropological studies of ethnicity were 
surveyed, but only thirteen were found to have some 
kind of definition of their key subject. 

The most common approaches in anthropological 
studies have been to define ethnicity either in an "ob- 
jectivist" or a "subjectivist" way. The objectivists regard 
ethnic groups as "social and cultural entities with dis- 
tinct boundaries characterized by relative isolation and 
lack of interaction," while subjectivists see them as "cul- 
turally constructed categorizations that inform social 
interaction and behavior" (Jones 1 997:57). In other words, 
the objectivists define ethnic groups on the basis of 
the analyst's perception of socio-cultural differentia- 
tion (the outsider's view), while the subjectivists see 
ethnicity as the subjective self-categorizations of the 
people being studied (the insider's view). Although Jones 
does not necessarily draw such a conclusion, this could 
also be perceived as an expression of the slightly con- 
descending viewpoint that researchers are normally 
objective, whereas the objects of their studies are not. 

It is, however, the latter, subjectivist, view that has 
prevailed since the 1 960s, based to a large extent on 
Barth's theoretical model of ethnicity, as developed in 
his Ethnic Croups and Boundaries {] 969). This view has 
also permeated legislation and policy dealing with in- 
digenous groups— as an example Jones (1 997:60) men- 
tions the definition of Australian Aboriginal groups. It 
is not, however, an entirely unproblematic definition. 

26/ Location of sites in Nortiiern Norway discussed 
in r/ie text. 

as exemplified by the question of how to differentiate 
between ethnic groups and other self-defining groups, 
if self-definition becomes the overriding criterion. 

It is exactly this tension about the definition of 
ethnicity generally, coupled with the need for an ob- 
jective legal definition of Sami ethnicity, both past and 
present, which create problems in relation to the Nor- 
wegian Cultural Heritage Act. The question is further 
complicated by the fact that in the case of the Sami, it 
is sometimes the researchers that represent the radical 
view, labelling objects and people as Sami on an his- 
torical basis, while the people themselves do not iden- 
tif/ with this label any longer. This not only demon- 
strates some of the difficulties involved in ethnic label- 
ling, but also shows what Jones (1997:64) calls "the 
fluid and situational nature of both group boundaries 
and individual identification." 

In order to explore further the concept and percep- 
tion of ethnicity, as opposed to other group ties, Jones 
describes another two labels, "the primordial impera- 
tive" and "instrumental ethnicities," which have surfaced 
in ethnicity studies over the last generation. The pri- 
mordial imperative is a socio-, or perhaps rather, a 
psycho-biological, approach which sees ethnicity as 
grounded in "the givens of birth: "blood," language, 
religion, territory and culture." These "givens" form in- 
voluntary primordial attachments with a coerciveness 
that "transcends the alliances and relationships engen- 




27/ The site of Hjemmeluft/Jiebmaluokta in Alta, County of Finnmorl<. 

dered by particular situational interests and social cir- 
cumstances" (Jones 1 997:65). In other words, the indi- 
vidual is born into a set of ties, primarily kinship ties, 
and values that will define that person's self-identifica- 
tion. The approach has been criticized for romanticiz- 
ing and mystifying ethnic identity, as well as portraying 
it as "involuntary and coercive" (ibid:69), thereby defin- 
ing it as "an abstract natural phenomenon," while over- 
looking the "historical and social grounding of particu- 
lar ethnicities" (ibid.:70). The approach, developed in 
the late 1 950s, also carries some unpleasant echoes of 
earlier nationalism, the ideology of national identity 
based on bloodlines and descent (ibid.:71). 

More acceptable in academic terms has, therefore, 
been the concept of "instrumental ethnicities," which 
came to dominate the debate during the 1970s and 
1 980s according to Jones (1 996:67, 1 997:75), and which 
sees ethnicity as "a dynamic and situational form of 

group identity" (1 997:72). However, the instrumentalist 
perception also has its difficulties. One is a tendency 
towards reductionism (ibid.:76), whereby observed con- 
sequences of ethnic behaviour are interpreted as the 
reasons for it. Thus, ethnicity becomes "the mobiliza- 
tion and politicization of culture in the organization of 
interest groups" (ibid. :77). This leads easily to "a ne- 
glect of the cultural and psychological dimensions of 
ethnicity." It also presupposes that "human behaviour 
is essentially rational and directed towards maximising 
self-interest" (ibid.:79), and, just like the subjectivist ap- 
proach described above, it makes it difficult to distin- 
guish between ethnic groups and other collective-in- 
terest groups. 

To a certain extent, one could say that the defini- 
tion of a Sami for electoral purposes in Norway (as 
well as in Sweden and Finland) is based on the primor- 
dial imperative way of thinking, using as it does the 



concepts of kinship and ininerited cultural traits, such 
as language, for a legal definition. Most researchers 
working with the question of Sami ethnicity would, 
however, rather adopt a view of ethnicity as a function 
of a "them-and-us" situation, using Barth's model and 
historical developments to explain its emergence and 
background. It is doubtful, however, that anyone would 
want to label it rational and self-serving, since this would 
tend to be seen as negative. 

This results in a number of different approaches and 
definitions which all carry both positive and negative 
aspects, and which are consequently difficult to sub- 
scribe to Jones (1 996:67-8, 1 997:84) herself suggests 
yet another definition of ethnicity, based on the theo- 
ries of Bourdieu (1 977) and his concept of "habitus" or 
those perceptions and practices that guide an 
individual's self-identification. This definition claims 
that "ethnic groups are culturally ascribed identity groups, 
which are based on the expression of a real or as- 
sumed shared culture and common descent" (Jones 
1 997:84). The definition attempts to incorporate those 
aspects of the others that are seen as positive, while at 
the same time portraying ethnicity as a social process 
in which "ethnic categories are reproduced and trans- 
formed" continuously, in order to accommodate ever 
changing historical and social circumstances. 

While this may be a useful definition of ethnicity 
for theoretical academic discussions, it does not, unfor- 
tunately, solve many legal disputes. The fluid and po- 
rous borders of ethnic groups are reflected in objects 
that incorporate aspects of more than one ethnic group 
or move between them, while the situational nature of 
ethnicity makes it difficult to project modern ethnic 
labels back in time. This, of course, applies as much to 
"Norwegian-ness" as to "Sami-ness," but has much 
greater consequences for the latter, since Norwe- 
gian is also equated with a state and its borders. 
Although the Sami refer to certain parts of Scan- 
dinavia as Sabmi (or Sdpmi, The Land of the Sami), 
this has no legal definition and its borders cross those 
of four nations: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. 

For the time being, therefore, Sami as a definition of 
legally protected cultural remains will continue to be 
the subject of interpretations and negotiations when- 
ever the discussion moves away from the politically 
promoted core of Sami-ness, the reindeer owning Sami. 
As such, one could say that the legal discussions are 
part of the ongoing development and negotiation of 
Sami ethnicity whereby objects, symbols and opinions 
fluctuate and change allegiance both in time and space. 
It is a dynamic way of looking at disagreements, which, 
however, is not easily incorporated into the task of law 

It also has the effect, as Jones admits (1 997:1 42), of 
undermining some of those minority claims to land 
and cultural heritage that have been accepted through, 
for instance, the adoption of ILO Convention No. 169, 
which gives the Norwegian Sami status as an indig- 
enous group. The Sami, like many other ethnic minori- 
ties, may be left with the choice of establishing an 
undisputable continuity between today's generally ac- 
cepted Sami culture and that of a distant past, sug- 
gesting that little has changed in Sami culture over 
hundreds and even thousands of years. More ironically 
even, the Sami may be forced or choose to accept a 
concept of ethnicity that is closely associated with 
nationalism. Within this particular framework, "group 
identities are represented as unified, monolithic wholes, 
with linear and continuous histories which in turn are 
used in the legitimation of claims to political autonomy 
and territory," as Jones (1 996:62) puts it. Another choice 
is to interpret and accept Sami ethnicity as a process 
that at different times and places has presented itself 
in different forms, some of which may not be related 
to modern concepts of Sami ethnicity. This latter 
choice, however, may blur the distinction between Sami 
and other ethnicities both in the past and in the present 
to such an extent that it becomes difficult to claim 
archaeological remains or cultural landscapes as part 
of a Sami history. 

At the moment, it seems much easier for all sides 
to accept a multi-faceted Norwegian past rather than 



28/ The Eastern Saami site ofSkoltebyen in Neiden, County of Finnmarl<. 

a Sami one. The latter will normally have to show lin- 
ear development and strong continuity and resem- 
blance with modern Sami culture, or at least certain 
parts of it, in order to be accepted as Sami. Therefore, 
while the academic discourse stresses the fluid and 
situational aspect of ethnicity, practice still prefers a 
rigid and one-dimensional definition, not least as the 
basis for legal protection of Sami cultural heritage. For 
the time being, the two approaches are negotiated 
from case to case, but some sort of integrated ap- 
proach will have to be found and incorporated into 
law, as well as practice, in the not too distant future. 

Protected Sami Cultural Landscapes 

The discussion above acquires more than a theoretical 
relevance when applied to three protected cultural land- 
scapes in the County of Finnmark (See Fig. 26): 
Hjemmeluft/Jiebmaluol<ta in the municipality of Alta, 
Mortensnes in Nesseby, and Neiden in Sor-Varanger. 
Hjemmeluft and Mortensnes have been protected us- 
ing Sectionl9 of the Cultural Heritage Act, Neiden 
through Section 20, and of these three sites, only 
Mortensnes and Neiden have been formally defined as 
Sami cultural landscapes. Together, they offer different 
perspectives on the difficulties of ethnic classifications, 

from the purely archaeological to the purely Sami. 

Hjemmeluft, Alta municipality. The site contains the 
World Heritage Site of the Alta Rock Carvings (Fig. 27), 
and its surrounding municipality today is mainly Nor- 
wegian. It is formally classified as purely archaeologi- 
cal, and its administrative authority is therefore the 
Norwegian county heritage officer in Finnmark. His- 
torically, however, the Alta area is commonly seen as a 
Coastal Sami area at least from the Middle Ages, prob- 
ably for much longer, and one could therefore classify 
the Stone and Bronze Age populations of the area, 
who produced the rock carvings, as proto-Sami. Since 
the monuments, however, are all prehistoric, the site 
has been formally designated as "archaeological," with 
no ethnic affiliation. 

Mortensnes, Nesseby municipality. The site (Fig. 25) 
contains a large number of settlement remains, graves 
and other religious monuments, dating from the 
Mesolithic to the nineteenth century. The Nesseby mu- 
nicipality is still considered a primarily Sami municipal- 
ity. Nearly all remains within the protected area from 
the last 2,000 years are also commonly accepted as 
Sami, as are some of the older remains. The difficulties 
arise when considering the Mesolithic and Neolithic 
remains in the area. When the Mortensnes site was pro- 



tected in 1 988, the University Museum in Troms0 was 
appointed administrative authority according to the pro- 
visions of the Cultural Heritage Act. However, later 
changes to the Act meant that this authority became 
divided between the Norwegian county heritage of- 
ficer for archaeological remains and the Sami Parlia- 
ment for Sami remains. In other words, the site ac- 
quired a dual ethnicity entirely due to the letters of the 
law. Since this was deemed impractical in administra- 
tive terms, the Directorate has transferred sole author- 
ity to the Sami Parliament, based on an overall evalua- 
tion of the site and its location. This decision met with 
some criticism from Norwegian archaeologists since it 
is seen to assign a Sami ethnicity to the prehistoric 
remains in the area. 

Skoltebyen in Neiden, Sor-Varangermunicipality. The 
Neiden site (Fig. 28) comprises the settlement area of 
an Eastern Sami group isiida), while the surrounding 
municipality today has a mixed population of Norwe- 
gians, Sami and Qvens (Finns). The Eastern Sami often 
see themselves as a minority within the Sami minority, 
having converted to Russian Orthodox Christianity in 
the sixteenth century. The site was originally one of 
their seasonal settlements, but when the national bor- 
ders between Norway, Finland and Russia were drawn 
in the nineteenth century, the Eastern Sami, who had 
until then moved freely between the three states, were 
forced to settle in one of them. The Neiden siida chose 
to settle at Skoltebyen, their old summer settlement. 
The site contains a Russian Orthodox chapel from the 
sixteenth century, a number of Eastern Sami graves 
and remains of settlements from the later centuries, as 
well as modern buildings and businesses, the latter 
owned by descendants of the Eastern Sami. 

When the site was legally designated in 2000, the 
Sami Parliament became sole administrative authority 
since there are no known Norwegian or archaeological 
monuments within the area. Ironically, this has met with 
criticism from some of the local Eastern Sami, who 
regard the Sami Parliament, which is dominated by other 
Sami groups, as yet another a colonial power. 

1 02 


The three sites thus exemplify many of the difficulties 
inherent in the present Norwegian cultural heritage leg- 
islation when it comes to defining monuments— and 
even more so sites and cultural landscapes with a vari- 
ety of monuments— as Sami. The difficulties are histori- 
cal, in the sense that they reflect a heritage manage- 
ment system that has evolved over one-hundred years 
or more. This system in turn reflected a view of history, 
which, in the twentieth century, tended to regard the 
Sami as immigrants to Norwegian territory, especially 
in the southern parts of the country, and also to equate 
"the Sami" only with today's reindeer herders. Modern 
research has demonstrated that the Sami have an 
equally long history at least in certain parts of the coun- 
try as the Norwegians have in other parts, but also 
that there were and are a number of Sami adaptive 
strategies, with the modern form of reindeer herding 
being one, but not the only one. 

The obligation to identify cultural remains ethni- 
cally in order to decide their legal status has, on the 
one hand, led to a greater awareness and acceptance 
of Sami history generally, but also to a polarization of 
the debate and a sometimes monolithic view of what 
constitutes Sami-ness. In this rather antagonistic le- 
gal landscape, perceptions have a tendency to appear 
either black or white, while promoting the greyscales 
of the picture often brings wrath from both sides of the 
debate. This may seem surprising in a modern world 
where so many people juggle multiple identities on a 
daily basis, but it is not something that can be resolved 
through heritage legislation. For now, however, it has 
been left to the practitioners of the heritage laws, on 
both the Sami and the Norwegian sides, to negotiate 
the borders and consequences of the law, as knowl- 
edge, perceptions and aspirations change. 


1. The views expressed in this paper are 
those of the author and not necessarily those of 
her employer. 


2. These include a medieval monastery and 
the surrounding farm on an island in South-Western 
Norway (Utstein in the County of Rogaland), a tradi- 
tional multi-family farm in Western Norway (Havra- 
tunet in the neighbouring County of Hordaland), an 
Eastern Sami settlement in North-Eastern Norway 
(Skoltebyen in Neiden, County of Finnmark), and an 
old silver mining landscape in South-Eastern Nor- 
way (Kongsberg Silver Mines, County of Buskerud). 
A few more cases are being considered at the mo- 
ment, none of them in Sami areas. 

3. The author was born at Sorstraumen in 
Kvaenangen and comes from a Coastal Sami back- 

4. The examples have been chosen from the 
author's own family. The author belongs to the first 
generation with Norwegian as their first and only 


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1 04 

(Concepts and practices in 

th nog rapiiic Landscape preservation 

/\ Russian North perspective 


The problem of preserving historical and cultural lega- 
cies occupies a significant place in the social conscious- 
ness of Russia and in contemporary Russian scientific 
discourse. During the 1 990s, radically new concepts 
were developed and established about this subject. New 
legislative decrees were adopted, and many practical 
policies were launched to protect the rich cultural heri- 
tage of the Russian Federation. In many ways, these 
initiatives were linked to the significant political and 
social changes that had been occurring in Russia since 
1985 and, especially, after 1991. This evolution en- 
tailed greater freedom and the ability to express di- 
verse social opinions, with the country engaged in a 
rapid transition from self-imposed ideological seclu- 
sion to international cooperation. 

Recent Public Attitudes and Their Reflec- 
tion in Scientific Approaches 

Between 1 970 and 1 990, the conditions for preserv- 
ing the cultural and natural heritage of the former 
Soviet Union had deteriorated sharply. The deterio- 
ration was related to ever-increasing ideological pres- 
sure in the Soviet regime, a drive for unified cultural 
and social life that was actively promoted "from the 
top down." The government vigorously promoted its 
aims to unif/ individual ethnic cultures and fuse them 
into a new, quasi-ethnic community labeled "The So- 
viet People" (i.e., Bromlei 1981:329-55). In that ideo- 
logical setting, culture was relegated to a secondary— 
if not insignificant— role, in view of the absolute prior- 
ity given to industrial development and economics in 

general, as the fundamental factors in the country's de- 

With industry the center of concentration, develop- 
ment projects with the potential to devastate indig- 
enous homelands and cultures were perceived as per- 
fectly acceptable goals for the nation's economic 
progress. For example, monumental projects were un- 
dertaken for redirecting waters from northern rivers to 
the south of the Soviet Union to create huge reser- 
voirs (and to flood large agricultural and forest areas in 
the Russian North and Western Siberia). The reservoirs 
were considered necessary to provide for the needs of 
industry and agriculture in the southern regions. Sei- 
zure of huge territories inhabited by indigenous mi- 
nority peoples (such as Khanty, Nenets, and others) for 
exploring oil and gas fields was common, especially in 
the eastern and northern regions of the USSR. State- 
run industries confiscated traditional ethnic areas with- 
out compensating local residents or providing adequate, 
new living conditions. 

Social changes occurring in the Soviet Union with 
the start of perestroika [policy of economic and gov- 
ernmental reform after 1 985-1 986] could not skirt these 
problems. It was natural that the issues of ethnic con- 
sciousness and protection of the cultures and rights of 
indigenous peoples and other minority groups became 
so extraordinarily pressing at the end of the 1 980s. The 
idea of cultural and ethnic unification as the primary 
path for the country's development was repudiated and 
replaced by the goal of preserving and reviving the 
many national cultures in the Russian Federation. Cor- 


respondingly, a new crucial task emerged: the identifi- 
cation and documentation of the variety in Russia's 
ethnic and historical heritage. Public interest in and 
awareness of one's native land, ethnic origins, religious 
traditions, and family roots skyrocketed. For a long 
time, such concerns about heritage had been consid- 
ered insignificant, had not been encouraged in official 
Soviet propaganda, and at times, had been openly sup- 

This trend coincided with the beginning of a pow- 
erful and popular environmental movement. Many 
grassroots environmental groups, organized beginning 
in the second half of the 1 980s, asserted the rights for 
citizens to live in a clean environment and for com- 
plete disclosure to local constituencies of risks associ- 
ated with existing manufacturing or planned construc- 
tion projects (Litovka 1 989). 

It is no accident that one of the more prominent 
expressions of the 1980s, in fact, a widely shared 
slogan in the public and scholarly community alike, 
was the concept of "the ecology of culture," as ad- 
vanced by the late Academician Dmitrii S. Likhachev 
(1980; 2000). Having coined this new term, 
Likhachev— then the most authoritative and popu- 
lar Russian historian— linked the two central issues 
of the time. The first concerned the continuity of 
social consciousness and the role of historical roots 
in the ongoing transformation of Russia (and of the 
then-Soviet Union). The second issue was the inter- 
action and spiritual interrelationship of nature and 
society. Likhachev's concept assumes that the key 
conditions for the preservation of a culture include 
not only the protection of its historical treasures, 
cultural traditions, and cultural education of the pub- 
lic, but also the protection of nature, without which 
a modern nation cannot exist. According to 
Likhachev, if preserving the natural environment is 
a condition for man's biological existence, then pre- 
serving the cultural environment is the most impor- 
tant condition for man's moral and spiritual life. 

1 06 

New Trends in Russian Heritage Research 

During the perestroika years (1985-1991), new con- 
cepts were advanced in Russian cultural politics and 
scholarship related to the preservation and documen- 
tation of cultural heritage. It is important to note the 
following three basic transitions. 

Individual to Diversified: 

The transition from the once-established practice 
of separate (isolated) research and protection of 
cultural and natural monuments to preservation of 
heritage in its integrity and diversity. 

This new approach was based on evolution from the 
protection of individual monuments to the preserva- 
tion of an entire historical and cultural heritage that 
subsumes the heritage objects themselves, the envi- 
ronment in which they exist, and people (or better, the 
local community) as carriers of heritage. This shift was 
probably the most important trend in Russian scientific 
and sociocultural practices of the 1 990s and would de- 
fine many other changes for several years to come. 
Specifically, this type of approach allowed work to be- 
gin for preserving the face of the territory's common 
cultural landscape and its historical environment, in- 
stead of protecting a selected individual monument as 
an object of cultural heritage. 

New programs are being formulated— and many are 
already being implemented— to identify the entire 
scope of heritage, including not only historical and 
cultural monuments, but also other, very important 
elements. Such elements include, but are not lim- 
ited to, folk culture, traditions, ethnic crafts and trades, 
the historical urban environment, agricultural develop- 
ment and the system of settlement, the ethnocultural 
environment, the natural environment, and traditional 
nature management (subsistence economy). These 
phenomena are no longer viewed merely as necessary 
background or conditions for any prominent monu- 
ment or significant historical phenomenon. They are 
seen as direct, significant parts of a common ethnic 


legacy— as special elements that define the originality 
of the culture of a particular country or region. 

The trend toward preservation of heritage in its in- 
tegrity and diversity initially became visible in new 
efforts to identify and document historical and cultural 
monuments. Work to inventory monuments in various 
parts of the country has intensified, and previously ex- 
isting lists of cultural or historical monuments now in- 
clude thousands of new entries. Their numbers include 
not only prominent archaeological, architectural, and 
historical sites, as well as monumental art, but also ob- 
jects that never had been considered in any detail. 
Public buildings in historical cities, objects of indus- 
trial architecture, the entire complex of the historical 
ensemble, and other objects and structures were among 
those included under the newly expanded definition 
of heritage objects. 

After the new inventories of historical and cultural 
heritage were performed in the early 1 990s, the num- 
ber of monuments placed on the government register 
and under protection in Russia increased exponentially.' 

In many small historical Russian cities, the num- 
ber of protected objects increased by virtually an 
order of magnitude {Istohcheskii gorod 1 997). This es- 
calation is reflected in the publication of a collection 
(begun in 1 997) of historical and cultural monuments, a 
kind of Russian "national register of monuments" (Svod 
pamiatnikov 1 997; 1 998-2001 ). 

Historical and Cultural Context: 

The transition toward viewing heritage as a reflec- 
tion of historical experience in the interaction be- 
tween man and nature. 

This new perspective on cultural/historical heritage as 
a systemic phenomenon is extremely important. Un- 
der the new approach, individual objects of heritage 
cannot be preserved apart from each other or apart 
from their environment. Consideration not simply of 
an individual monument, but of the entire historical 
and cultural complex in all its variety, offers the best 

path to acknowledge the integrity of cultural and natural 
heritage. This tenet refers both to the situational unity 
of the monument and the environment in which it was 
created (and which comprises its natural landscape 
surroundings and the functional unity of monument 
and environment). As a rule, every cultural monument 
is tied by innumerable threads of its functional intent 
to its surrounding environment, which forms a unique 
ecological niche for the monument. 

Unfortunately, this new, integrated approach has not 
yet been implemented adequately through specific, 
conceptually consistent programs for protecting cul- 
tural and natural heritage. As in the past, rigid bureau- 
cratic barriers remain between Russia's state cultural 
institutions and environmental protection agencies. In 
particular, virtually all functions of the national park 
network established in Russia as a special form of pro- 
tection for nature, culture, and ethnic traditions, are lim- 
ited to environmental protection. To date, most expec- 
tations that had been conferred on this integrated net- 
work back in the 1980s (Maksakovskii 1998) remain 
unfulfilled. However, quests for such integration are 

Territorial Approach: 

The importance of the territorial approach to re- 
searching and preserving heritage, when the primary 
objects of protection are territories. 

Prior practice has made it clear that the protection of 
isolated historical and cultural objects cannot be effec- 
tive apart from the preservation of their surrounding 
historical and natural spaces. Preservation of the broader 
space, or environment, is necessary from the point of 
view not only of how a monument— whether a natural 
system, architectural complex, or ethnic community- 
is perceived, but, most importantly, of its long-term 
sustainability. Thus, the creation in Russia of histori- 
cal/cultural and natural protected areas calls for the 
simultaneous resolution of problems in both the pres- 
ervation and rational management of historical, cul- 



tural, and natural monuments. The status of such pro- 
tected areas has not yet been clearly defined under 
Russian legislation. However, their creation has gradu- 
ally advanced from theoretical discussions to practical 
implementation. Consequently, several large museum- 
conservation areas and many national parks have 
emerged, per se, as territories with single natural-cul- 
tural spaces [see Wiget and Balalaeva, this volume]. 

A "historical-cultural territory" may be defined as 
"an integral spatial object where several natural, his- 
torical, and cultural objects of exceptional value and 
significance may be found." Such a designation is con- 
ferred based on the existence of a local complex of 
monuments and territories objectively linked by eth- 
nic, economic, historical, or geographical factors. The 
existence and combination of a complex of memorial, 
architectural, or archaeological objects determine the 
territory's uniqueness. Other possible determinants of 
uniqueness are ethnic traditions and economic activ- 
ity, folklore and ceremonial ethnic culture, and natural 
points of interest or historical forms of nature manage- 
ment' that represent exceptional value from the point 
of view of the history and culture of a separate people 
or of Russia as a whole. 

The best examples of such historical-cultural terri- 
tories may be small, historical cities (home to numer- 
ous monuments and architectural structures from the 
sixteenth through eighteenth centuries), including the 
surrounding, old villages and natural grounds; old man- 
ors or Russian Orthodox monastery complexes, where 
nature, architecture, and local community make up a 
single whole; and great historical battlefields. Ethno- 
graphic landscapes are related, in particular, to the habi- 
tation of minority ethnic groups, and Russia's northern 
indigenous peoples also fall into this category. 

In all these trends, the unity of three factors that 
are carriers of heritage— historical and cultural heri- 
tage, the natural environment, and the inhabitants of 
these territories— is apparent. It must be stressed that 
protection and use of heritage are viewed today as 
organic parts of the modern sociocultural and eco- 

1 08 

nomic development of every territory. 

It is these new approaches in Russian scientific dis- 
course and practices in heritage preservation that al- 
lowed the introduction, in the 1 990s, of the pioneering 
(for Russia) concept of cultural landscape. The closely 
related concept of "ethnographic landscape" also 
emerged, and the two terms frequently are discussed 

The Concept of Cultural Landscape in Rus- 
sian Heritage Studies 

The contemporary understanding of cultural landscape 
is ambiguous in both international and Russian scien- 
tific discourse. Three basic approaches to the interpre- 
tation of this term must be distinguished. 

The first approach is based on the concept that a 
cultural landscape is a locale that has been inhabited 
over a long historical period by a certain group of people 
who are the carriers of specific cultural values. Minority 
ethnic groups and/or local communities based on reli- 
gious traditions (such as Russian Old Believers) are 
cited often as examples of such groups. 

A similar approach to defining a cultural landscape 
and its study is characteristic of the school of cultural 
geography established by Carl Sauerd 925/1 963; 1 927). 
In this approach, a cultural landscape is an artificial 
landscape created by the long-term settlement and other 
interrelated activities of local communities and cul- 
tural groups. In this sense, the term "cultural landscape" 
is virtually equivalent to the term "ethnographic land- 
scape." Moreover, despite the fact that the latter term is 
practically absent from Sauer's work, much attention is 
devoted to factors and results associated with the trans- 
formation of the natural landscape by various ethnic 
populations. At the same time, significant attention is 
devoted to the structure of the settlement, features of 
land utilization, and local architecture whose creation 
was influenced by local and other factors (Salter 1971). 

In Russian scientific discourse, the concept of the 
cultural landscape as a modification of the natural land- 
scape developed gradually during the course of the 


twentieth century. In the nature-centric approach, the 
geographic landscape is the set of natural phenomena 
that, ideally, has not been touched or changed by man 
(Isachenko 1 965). Its antithesis is the anthropogenic 
landscape, which has been changed/transformed by man 
and, sometimes, even "spoiled" by human intervention. 
In this latter approach, the cultural landscape is seen as 
a "good" anthropogenic landscape that has been trans- 
formed by human activity, according to a specific pro- 
gram. Such a landscape commonly exhibits high es- 
thetic and functional properties (Mil'kov 1 973, 1 978). 

Still another perspective has become established 
in Russian landscape research during the past decade 
and is even more widely accepted. This perspective 
considers the cultural landscape an integrated, territori- 
ally localized set of material components and phe- 
nomena formed as the result of interaction between 
natural processes and diverse human activities. Within 
this framework, the notion has developed that the re- 
sults of human action, embodied in objects of material 
and spiritual culture, are an intrinsic part of the cultural 
landscape (Vedenin 1997). 

The basis of this approach is the notion of the ac- 
tive role played by intellectual and spiritual human 
activity in the formation of a cultural landscape. In this 
approach, the role of the intellectual and spiritual com- 
ponent of the landscape is specifically acknowledged. 
It is stressed that 

spiritual and intellectual values, preserved 
and passed down from one generation to 
another in the form of information, not only 
define the formation and development of a 
cultural landscape, but are also an integrated 
part of it and are subject to the influence of 
other, material components of the landscape 
(Vedenin 1997; Vedenin and Kuleshova 2001). 

This perspective clearly argues that the manifestations 
of a cultural landscape are not limited to its scenic 
values; it also emphasizes the aspect of territorial dif- 
ferentiation (spatial diversity) of cultural phenomena. 
Thus, the results of changes occurring in traditional eco- 
nomics and nature management also become compo- 
nents of every cultural landscape. Such changes usu- 


ally interfere with specific ethnocultural features of a 
local population (such as language, religion, daily and 
artistic culture, and other factors) as well as with the 
many forms of "invisible" cultural legacy, such as his- 
torical events of great significance and related cultural 
memory. Through these interactions, the cultural land- 
scape accumulates and manifests the intellectual and 
spiritual potential of a nation or given regional group. 

It is under this third interpretation that cultural land- 
scape becomes the main theoretical concept for de- 
velopment of a new framework for preservation and 
management of Russia's cultural resources. It is hoped 
that "cultural landscape" is also destined to become a 
basic term in practical activities and in the emerging 
national system of documentation and protection of 
cultural monuments and historical and cultural territo- 
ries. A similar approach has been adopted as the basis 
of activity at the Russian Research Institute for Cultural 
and Natural Heritage (RRICNH), a research center es- 
tablished in 1 992 and named after Dmitrii S. Likhachev 
(Russian: 'Institut kul'turnogo i prirodnogo naslediia'). 

The government decree that created RRICNH set 
forth two main goals for the new state scientific agency: 

—Implementing in Russia the primary provisions 
of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and 
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convention regard- 
ing the protection of cultural and natural heritage; 

—Substantiating and developing regional programs 
for preservation and management of cultural and 
natural heritage (for diverse types of regions and 
local communities). 

In its work, RRICNH attempts to address issues re- 
lated to both methods and management of a unified 
policy for preserving cultural and natural heritage. 
Its work has served as the basis for the creation of new 
museums, museum-conservation areas, and national 
parks. RRICNH has initiated the development of inte- 
grated programs for heritage preservation of historical 
cities, rural settlements, and territories. The institute par- 
ticipates in numerous research programs on living tra- 
ditional culture and organizes heritage surveys and re- 

1 09 

search expeditions (Shul'gin and Shtele 1998; Vedenin 
2000; Shul'gin 2002; Vedenin 2003). 

RRICNH research is based on the cultural-landscape 
zoning of various regions of Russia. It promotes the 
establishment of a network of historical and cultural 
territories as primary objects for development and imple- 
mentation of heritage preservation projects. One of 
these territories is the so-called "ethno-ecological area." 
This term usually refers to the area populated by a 
minority ethnic group, an indigenous community, or a 
specific group (subdivision) of a larger ethnic popu- 
lation (Vedenin and Shul'gin 1992; Shul'gin 2000). 

The term "ethno-ecological area" was introduced in 
the Russian scientific discourse in the late 1 980s (Ler 
and Lebedev 1989; Bogoslovskaia 1990), thanks to a 
few pioneer interdisciplinary studies conducted by Rus- 
sian biologists and ethnographers. The purpose of the 
studies was to protect the traditional cultures of minor- 
ity groups and their unique natural environments. Dur- 
ing 1 989-1 990, proposals were set forth for establish- 
ing protected areas in Primorskii Krai and the Chukchi 
Autonomous Area (Chukotka), so that indigenous na- 
ture-management practices, traditional subsistence 
economies, and customary ways of life would be main- 
tained. Anthropologist Igor Krupnik advanced a closely 
related term, "ethno-ecosystem," using the example of 
indigenous sea-mammal hunters and reindeer herders 
of the Russian Arctic and Subarctic (Krupnik 1 989, 1 993). 
According to Krupnik's definition (1989:24), an ethno- 
ecosystem includes stable ethnic communities (popu- 
lations) that are linked by their common use of lands, 
their common labor, and the habitation of a specific 

Another influential, integrated approach to the 
identification of cultural and ethnographic landscapes 
was advanced by a team of physical and economic 
geographers from Moscow University (MGU) 
(Kaganskii and Rodoman 1 995; Kalutskov et al. 1 998; 
Turovskii 1998). MGU has held an annual seminar 
"Cultural Landscape" since 1993. Recently, a spin- 
off of the seminar, a special lecture course called 

"Fundamentals of Ethnocultural Landscape Studies," 
was offered at the Department of Physical Geogra- 
phy and Landscape Studies of the MGU School of 
Geography (Kalutskov 2000). For several years, field 
surveys of the ethnographic landscape of the local 
Russian population have been conducted under this 
program in the Pinega District of Arkhangelsk Prov- 
ince in the Russian North (Kul'turnyi landshaft 1 998). 

In the MGU approach, ethno-ecological territories 
largely are lands inhabited/used by indigenous peoples 
of the North. Ethno-ecological territories may also in- 
clude relatively isolated habitations of other, small eth- 
nic communities. In these territories, a traditional cul- 
ture and a particular system of settlement and manner 
of colonization have developed. There are traditional 
economic holdings and holy places. In such cases, a 
relatively small territory often contains the entire his- 
tory of an ethnic community or minority nation and, at 
the same time, is itself the economic and cultural basis 
for its modern residency. In such territories, many natu- 
ral objects have a historical or mythological character 
and an animated significance for the local people. Ex- 
amples include rivers, lakes, hills, and even individual 
trees [see Wiget and Balalaeva, this volume]. 

The preservation of a given historical space, its iden- 
tification, and its protection from abrupt external distur- 
bances function as a pledged security for preserving 
the culture and traditional forms of economic, spiritual, 
and religious distinctions of the local population. This 
particular kind of territory can receive special status 
and legislative protection as a guarantee of preserving, 
as a whole, not only the historical and natural heritage 
of the given area, but also the ethnic group that inhab- 
its it. For such territories, the related concept of ethno- 
graphic landscape is directly applicable. 

Ethnographic Landscape Preservation in 
Russian Legislation 

Although Russian heritage studies set forth several 
new concepts and approaches during the 1990s, the 
current situation in Russia with regard to protected 



status for historical and cultural territories, and ethno- 
graphic landscapes in particular, is still cause for con- 
cern. One important obstacle that prevents implemen- 
tation of a landscape approach to preservation of 
historical-cultural heritage (and ethnographic landscapes 
as its constituent part) is the inadequacy of an appro- 
priate legislative basis. Russian legislative practice 
does not keep pace with social and economic 
change. Because of the great inadequacy of legisla- 
tion to effectively address issues of economic regu- 
lation, land ownership, and taxation, new legisla- 
tion aimed at protecting cultural heritage often is 
relegated to second place. Some laws introduced for 
deliberation and legislative approval by the Russian 
Duma [Federal Parliament] undergo a long period of 
consideration— sometimes up to six to eight years. 
For example, a law concerning historical and cultural 
monuments and culture has been debated in the Rus- 
sian Duma for more than six years. Several variations 
of this law have been considered, but none has ad- 
vanced to the final stage of deliberation, much less to 
a vote. Passage of this law was put off until 2001, 
although the first half of year 2000 was used to con- 
sider other legislation. Almost the same situation oc- 
curred with a law on traditional nature management. 
The proposed law was discussed for seven years and 
enacted only in May 2001. 

It should be recalled, however, that Russia under- 
took perhaps the first legislative attempt directly re- 
lated to preserving ethnographic landscapes of in- 
digenous peoples as early as the nineteenth century. 
The action was related to passage in 1 822 of the Rus- 
sian Imperial Law entitled "Regulations for the Admin- 
istration of Aliens" [that is, of the various non-Russian 
and non-Slavic ethnic communities]. Former governor- 
general of Siberia and prominent reformer Mikhail M. 
Speranskii played a leading role in preparing this legis- 
lation (Polnoe sobranie 1 830). The "Regulations" se- 
cured for the indigenous population— especially the 
Native peoples of Siberia and the Russian North— the 
traditional territories of their settlements, their forms of 


economic activity and of the local self-government. 
Thus, the issues of sustainable habitation for indigenous 
peoples and preservation of their environments were 
addressed under one law nearly 200 years ago. 

The pioneering nature of these "Regulations" of 
1822 in establishing a new approach and set of rela- 
tionships between the government and Russia's indig- 
enous peoples has been acknowledged (Murashko 
2000). Unfortunately, this law, a nearly ideal legislation 
for its time, failed— like many other "good laws" in Rus- 
sia. In addition to being abused by local authorities, 
the law was eroded by many subsequent legislative 
initiatives. It should be noted that the legal system that 
developed in Soviet Russia a century later, in the 1 920s, 
implicitly expressed many provisions that were surpris- 
ingly similar to those of the "Regulations" of 1 822. 

However, by the mid-1 930s, a new government 
policy for industrial development in Siberia and the 
Russian Arctic was being developed in the USSR. The 
new policy embodied the principles of a totalitarian 
administrative approach, which prioritized economic 
interests over cultural and human values. For indig- 
enous peoples of the North, the mid-1 930s and subse- 
quent periods were times of compulsory cultural and 
social assimilation. Relocations of indigenous popula- 
tions from their original places of inhabitation were 
common in the Russian North (as elsewhere), begin- 
ning in the 1940s. The closure of hundreds of small 
Native settlements and forced relocation of their resi- 
dents to larger communities was practiced on a mass 
scale. Relocations were related to development of min- 
eral resources, use of forced labor (the infamous GULAG 
prison system), military construction, and testing of 
nuclear and other weapons. Such policies led to distur- 
bance of traditional management practices in many ar- 
eas and degeneration of the cultural landscape, some- 
times even to the extent of depopulation. 

During those times, efforts to preserve Native eth- 
nic territories could be accomplished through pro- 
tection of natural sites, usually in the form of nature 
conservation areas and reserves. Thus, despite the 

1 1 1 

clearly insufficient attention devoted in the USSR to 
protecting the cultures and traditions of its many in- 
digenous nations, a network of protected natural terri- 
tories (called nature reserves, Russian: zapovedniki) de- 
veloped steadily between 1 930 and 1 960. This net- 
work included several reserves established across 
Russia's northern regions. The development of this net- 
work established a practice under which attempts at 
preserving cultural landscapes of indigenous peoples 
could be channeled exclusively under national legis- 
lation for protection of natural areas. This situation re- 
mains unchanged to the present day. 

The new federal law "On the Status of Protected 
Natural Areas" (Federal'nyi zakon 1995), adopted in 
1995, is marked by a substantially enhanced level of 
detail compared to other Soviet legislation. The law 
also allows certain articles and provisions to be used 
for preservation of traditional management practices 
and cultural landscapes of indigenous peoples. How- 
ever, this law focuses on nature conservation, by defi- 
nition. Thus, protection of indigenous cultural land- 
scapes can be accomplished somewhat under the aus- 
pices of Russia's network of national parks and nature 
parks. Among the many tasks it assigns to these parks, 
the legislation includes "the preservation of the natural 
environment and natural objects, and the restoration of 
disturbed natural and historical and cultural complexes 
and objects." 

Russia's national parks are more strictly protected 
than nature parks. The former (national parks) are under 
the federal management system and are financed 
through the federal budget. This classification includes 
territories that have national importance because of 
their unique natural objects, but also have high histori- 
cal and esthetic value. The latter (nature parks) are 
administered by local governments of territories that 
are constituent members of the Russian Federation and 
financially supported under the local area budgets. This 
administrative structure allows, to a certain extent, the 
inclusion of specific local features in management and 
economic activity. Like national parks, Russia's nature 

1 1 2 

parks are aimed at preservation of natural landscapes 
that have high ecological and esthetic value. How- 
ever, these areas are also intended to be used for rec- 
reational, sociocultural, and other purposes. Thus, rec- 
reation, tourism, and cultural and educational activi- 
ties are, to a greater extent, permitted and even en- 
couraged in nature parks. 

The provisions of the federal law for both national 
and nature parks, nevertheless, generally do not ad- 
dress traditional management practices of indigenous 
peoples. Correspondingly, they are not, in any defined 
way, legally aimed at protection of areas inhabited by 
minority indigenous nations and ethnic groups. Such 
issues had not been addressed in Russian legislation 
for a long time. It was not until the new law, "On the 
Fundamentals of Government Regulation of Socioeco- 
nomic Development in the North of the Russian Fed- 
eration," was adopted in June 1 996 that the actual term 
"traditional management practices" (of indigenous 
people) was established in Russian legislation 
(Clubokovskii 2000). 

Thus, the protection of cultural (and ethnographic) 
landscapes in Russia urgently requires the adoption of 
new legislation under which preservation of ethnic lands 
and cultural diversity is combined with support for and 
revival of ethnic cultures and indigenous economies. 
A draft proposal for a new law for protection of histori- 
cal and cultural territories in Russia was introduced in 
1 990, first within the framework of the Russian Cultural 
Fund and, later, by the RRICNH (Proekt statusa 1990). 
This federal law, "On the Objects of Cultural Heritage 
(Monuments of History and Culture) of the Peoples of 
the Russian Federation," was finally adopted in 2002. 
It could be viewed as the most serious attempt thus 
far to address the problem. However, this and other 
similar attempts remain unrealized— to date, no follow- 
up regultaions and policy acts have been developed 
in Russia for protection of historical and cultural monu- 
ments. Instead, an old 1 976 law from the Soviet era is 
more or less still in place and it in no way addresses 
the new political and social realities of the country. 


In light of this evident legal vacuum at the federal 
level, individual republics and provinces of the Russian 
Federation have developed some important docu- 
ments. In this context, several legislative acts (or pro- 
posals) that concern historical and cultural territories, 
including the homelands of minority indigenous and/ 
or local populations of the Russian North, can be cited. 
Examples include the Republic of Karelia law, "On 
Unique Historical and Natural Landscape Territories" of 
1992 (Zakon Respubliki Kareliia 1994); a regulation by 
the legislative assembly of Nizhegorod Province on 
the historically and culturally designated lands associ- 
ated with Old Believers (1 995); and a number of similar, 
regional acts. These acts assume the protection of spe- 
cific historical territories, but simultaneously advocate 
measures for preservation of significant ethnographic 
(cultural) landscape characteristics of the locale. 

Another example is a regulation enacted by the 
Head of the Administration of Vladimir Province in 
Central Russia (as of April 1999) on the establishment 
of a particular type of protected territories, called "his- 
torical-landscape complexes." The first such historical- 
landscape complex was established around the famous 
Church of the Intercession at Nerl. The landscape, in- 
cluding the church, built in the twelfth century, was 
named "Bogolyubovo Meadow." To a certain extent, 
these local legislative decisions are prototypes of fu- 
ture federal actions that are necessary to preserve eth- 
nographic landscapes. 

Probably the most far-reaching effort in such local 
legislation has been undertaken in the recent draft law 
"On Traditional (Native) Subsistence Management Ar- 
eas" in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area {Okrug) \n West- 
ern Siberia (Bogoslovskaia 2000). This draft law attempts 
to combine the present-day system of administrative 
division of the Russian Federation (with three levels: 
province, area, and district) and the principles of territo- 
rial self-government and land and resource manage- 
ment by the indigenous communities. 

The adoption of these and other local legislative 
documents, as well as the growing general awareness 


of the need to preserve ethnographic landscapes in 
Russia as a special category of heritage, were remark- 
able events of the 1990s. These events have helped 
create conditions that eventually will advance the de- 
velopment of similar legislation at the federal level. 

The Current System of Cultural and Natu- 
ral Landscape Protection: Structure and 

It is clear that no legislative regulations concerning 
preservation of ethnographic landscapes are in place, 
and, essentially, that no Russian government agency 
considers these issues directly within its jurisdiction. 
Under existing legal practice, the best form of protec- 
tion that ethnographic landscapes may receive in 
today's Russia exists under nature preservation legisla- 
tion. The current Russian federal law of 1995, "On the 
Status of Specially Protected Natural Areas," identifies 
seven types of protected territories: 

—Natural monuments 
—Nature conservation areas 
— Federal nature reserves 
—National parks 
—Nature parks 

— Dendrological parks and botanical gardens 
—Medical health-improvement sites and resorts 

In terms of overall size, three of these types of pro- 
tected territories are most significant: federal nature re- 
serves, national parks, and nature parks. These desig- 
nated types differ in legal status and functions. 

The national system of government-owned conser- 
vation areas, called "federal nature reserves" {zapov- 
edniki) is rightfully considered the pride of Russia's 
preservation policy. The first such reserves were estab- 
lished as examples of "undisturbed natural territories" 
in 1 91 6. As of the beginning of 2000, they comprise an 
overall area of more than thirty-three million hectares 
(81.5 million acres), with a network of ninety-nine 
federal nature reserves under government control. 

These conservation areas are strictly protected, and 

1 1 3 

access is rigidly restricted. Of Russian nature reserves, 
twenty-two have international status as biosphere re- 
serves and are certified accordingly. There are more 
than thirty federal nature reserves in the various north- 
ern areas of Russia, in both European and Siberian sec- 
tors (Gosudarstvennyi doklad 2000). The establishment 
of nature reserves has led to successful preservation of 
large territories of "undisturbed" (rather, lightly disturbed) 
natural environment. In practice, however, their func- 
tions and practical activities have little connection with 
the preservation of ethnographic landscapes. 

Two types of protected areas in Russia have the 
greatest connection to the preservation of ethnographic 
landscapes: national parks and nature parks. 

National Parks 

National parks are federally protected areas that in- 
clude natural complexes and objects of particular eco- 
logical, historical, or esthetic value and are intended 
for environmental preservation, educational, scientific, 
or cultural purposes and for regulated tourism. Unlike 
nature reserves, Russia's national park system is a rela- 
tively recent phenomenon. The first national parks were 
established in 1983; by 2000, there were thirty-five. A 
large number of these were created in the 1 990s under 
newly promulgated post-Soviet social policy. National 
parks were intended to occupy a different niche from 
that occupied by government-owned nature reserves 
and to combine the tasks of nature preservation and 
cultural heritage protection. 

Today, the total combined area of national parks in 
Russia is nearly seven million hectares, approximately 
0.4 percent of the Russian Federation total. Some 4,000 
people are employed in the park system. Four national 
parks have been created in the northern regions of the 
Russian Federation, all in the European section (Gosud- 
arstvennyi doklad 2000). Until 2000, nearly all national 
parks were under the control of the Federal Forestry 
Service of Russia. (Only one national park is under 
the jurisdiction of the Moscow City government). In 
2000, the Federal Forestry Service ceased to exist as a 

separate governmental agency, and it now functions 
as a subdivision of the Ministry of Natural Resources of 
the Russian Federation. Thus, virtually all protected 
natural territories of federal significance appear to be 
concentrated under the control of the Ministry of Natu- 
ral Resources. 

Many Russian national parks, particularly those 
created during the 1 990s, have a clearly recognized 
ethnographic component and therefore may be viewed 
as historical or present-day ethnographic landscapes. A 
good example is Alankhay Park in Aginsk-Buryat 
Autonomous Area (near Lake Baikal). Established in 
1 999, this is one of the most recent national parks. The 
park's greatest point of interest is Alankhay Mountain 
and its ridges. The park territory is distinguished by 
richly diverse animal and plant species, hot springs, 
and various mineral objects related to the geological 
history of the region. In addition, for hundreds of years, 
the area has been a place of worship for the indig- 
enous population, the Buryat. The Alankhay Buddhist 
religious complex, the sixth most important holy place 
for Buddhists around the world, is located there. 

Russia's national parks have not yet become ven- 
ues for implementing an active policy for preserving 
ethnographic landscapes. During their former subordi- 
nation to the Federal Forestry Sen/ice, basic problems 
related to their cultural policies remained virtually un- 
resolved. Many proposals aimed at preservation of cul- 
tural and ethnographic heritage under park system ju- 
risdiction never materialized. 

Nature Parks 

Nature parks have almost the same status as national 
parks, but have greater possibilities for recreational and 
economic activities, as well as educational and cultural 
programs. Commonly, a local department or commit- 
tee on natural resource management that is part of the 
provincial or local republic government manages na- 
ture parks. By 2000, only thirty such parks had been 
established (more than half of them in Russia's north- 
ern regions), with a combined total area of more than 



29/ Ostyak (Khcinty) mother and daughter, at their 
family camp, Salym River, Sivokhrebski Yourts, 1911. 

twelve million hectares (29.7 million acres). The total 
number of nature parks seems unduly small, especially 
because creation of a nature park does not require a 
federal decision and may be accomplished at a local 
level (Gosudarstvennyi doklad 2000). 

Russia's network of nature parks is still in its initial, 
formative stage. These parks include some very small, 
protected areas in cities (for example, some nature parks 
are located within the City of Moscow), as well as huge 
territories with areas greater than one million hectares 
(2.47 million acres) (located mainly in Siberia and the 
Russian North). Some nature parks have very little con- 
nection with ethnographic landscapes; others are di- 
rectly connected with preservation of areas that have 
specific cultural and ethnographic value to local popu- 
lations. The latter include Numto Lake and Konda Lakes 
nature parks in Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area. These 
parks are located in the core homeland areas of the 
Khanty and Nenets indigenous people. Another ex- 


30/ Visiting the Kayukov Family Camp, Salym River, 
Punsi Yourts, 1999. 

ample, Beringia Nature Park in Chukchi Autonomous 
Area in the Bering Strait region, even includes the des- 
ignation "nature-ethnic" in its name, to underscore both 
its natural and cultural preservation functions. 

It is obvious that locally managed nature parks may 
eventually become one of the primary organizational 
forms for preserving ethnographic landscapes, particu- 
larly across Russia's vast northern areas. However, the 
current subordination of nature parks to local environ- 
mental protection agencies remains one of the obstacles 
to fulfilling these tasks [see Fedorova, this volume]. 
The shortage of funding and trained personnel is a per- 
manent problem, and in many regions, the preservation 
of cultural heritage cannot be addressed directly under 
the dominant environment protection agenda. 

Museum-Conservation Areas 

Another type of protected territory that may be instru- 
mental in preserving Russia's ethnographic landscapes 

1 1 5 

is the museum-conservation area (Russian: Muzei- 
zapovednik). iVluseum-conservation areas are officially 
listed as "cultural institutions" and are administered by 
the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. A 
museum-conservation area differs from a typical mu- 
seum by virtue of the close connection of the given 
territory with its historical and memorial legacy or its 
specific geographic location. Examples of museum-con- 
servation areas are historical battlefields, memorial coun- 
try estates associated with prominent public figures and 
cultural celebrities, and the most outstanding architec- 
tural complexes or historical cities and settlements. 

By 2000 in Russia, there were eighty-eight such 
museum-conservation areas, managed directly by the 
Federal Ministry of Culture or by regional cultural agen- 
cies and departments of provincial and republic gov- 
ernments in the Russian Federation [see the list of ma- 
jor Russian museum-conservation areas in Vergunov 
et al. 2000:170-4]. Many museum-conservation areas 
are rather small. They are often limited to the territory 
occupied by a historical or architectural monument, a 
country estate, or a park complex. However, some com- 
prise significant tracts of land. For example, Solovetskii 
Museum-Conservation Area, on Solovetskii Archipelago 
in the White Sea, occupies 1 06,000 hectares (261 ,820 
acres). The existence of a large territory under histori- 
cal preservation is evidence of both the environmen- 
tal-protection significance of museum-conservation ar- 
eas and their ability to protect traditional ethnographic 
landscapes within their boundaries. 

At present, approximately thirty (of eighty-eight) mu- 
seum-conservation areas may be considered focused 
somewhat on preservation of cultural or historical land- 
scapes. For some, preserving the cultural landscape is 
their essential function and the main purpose of their 
creation. Examples include the site near Moscow where 
the historic Battle of Borodino was fought in 1 81 2, dur- 
ing the Napoleonic invasion;^ Mikhailovskoe Museum- 
Conservation Area, associated with the family estate 
(and adjacent) of Alexander Pushkin, Russia's most fa- 
mous poet; and Yasnaya Polyana Museum-Conserva- 

tion Area, Leo Tolstoy's family estate. Under a recent 
proposal advocating the establishment of the Kulikovo 
Pole Museum-Conservation Area (the site of a historic 
battle in 1380), the primary objective of activities is 
the preservation of the historical landscape. (Muzei- 
zapovednik "Kulikovo pole" 1 999). 

Most museum-conservation areas are in the cen- 
ter of European Russia, and their activities are re- 
lated primarily to preserving the legacies of certain 
historical events and/or prominent personalities. 
Only a small number of such areas, like the 
Solovetskii and Kizhi Museum-Conservation Areas, 
are concerned with preservation of ethnographic 
landscapes. Both Solovetskii and Kizhi are in north- 
ern European Russia (Arkhangelsk Province and the 
Republic of Karelia, respectively) and thus are pos- 
sible examples of Russian policies for protecting 
northern ethnographic landscapes. Neither area, how- 
ever, has any indigenous/minority population or any 
objects related to indigenous cultural heritage. 

This brief review of major types of protected 
areas illustrates that preservation of ethnographic 
landscapes in Russia cannot be resolved under cur- 
rent protective legislation or existing organizational 
structures. The lack of policy coordination between 
environmental protection agencies and cultural agen- 
cies, both at federal and local levels, further aggra- 
vates the situation. A fundamental breakthrough 
could be achieved by the adoption of new federal 
legislation that would be focused on specific issues 
of cultural and ethnographic landscape preserva- 
tion and management. Until such legislation is de- 
veloped and adopted, the best venue for sufficiently 
effective work to preserve individual ethnographic 
landscapes would be under the status of nature 
parks. However, such landscapes must be managed 
(or co-managed) under a joint policy and in close 
cooperation between and among environmental pro- 
tection and cultural heritage agencies, and not ex- 
clusively under nature conservation management 
(the most common practice today). 



31/ Traditional Khanty storage structures at Aidar 
Yourts, Salym River, 191 1 . 

Ethnographic Landscapes Protection 
Programs in the Russian North 

Within tile specific focus of iiis review, regional 
projects for protection of cultural (ethnographic) 
landscapes in regions of the Russian North are of 
particular interest. The first pioneering efforts to cre- 
ate such protected territories for northern ethno- 
graphic landscapes were launched in the late 1 980s 
and early 1 990s. In 1 989, a proposal was introduced 
in Primorskii Krai in the Russian Far East to establish 
a system of protected natural areas under a new 
program of general ecological management/con- 
servation. The proposal may be considered a cru- 
cial step for many subsequent efforts to follow. 

The proposal was developed by a group of natu- 
ral scientists from the Biology and Soil Institute of the 
Far East Branch of the then-USSR Academy of Sciences 
in Vladivostok (Ler and Lebedev 1 989). Native eth- 
nographer Yevdokiia A. Gaer assisted environmental 
specialist L Ivashchenko, the primary author of the pro- 
posal and the leader of a team of ecologists.' In addi- 

32/ Khanty storage structures (ambars) atPunsi Yourts, 
Salym River, 1999. 

tion to advancing pure environmental recommenda- 
tions urging preservation of natural monuments and 
valuable natural landscapes of the study area, the pro- 
posal expressed great concern about the status of the 
indigenous population. 

For the first time in Russian practice, a goal was set 
to create a system of protected ethnic territories, with a 
special management policy for areas of traditional sub- 
sistence activities of indigenous people (Ler and 
Lebedev 1989:33-5). The proposal also advocated 
strong support for indigenous people of Primorskii Krai, 
preservation of the environment in their traditional ar- 
eas of residence, and (among other social and eco- 
nomic measures) restoration of hunting and fishing re- 
sources in their traditional subsistence areas. For the 
latter goal, four zones of primary indigenous subsis- 
tence use were identified in the region. The zones 
consisted of taiga (mountain boreal forest) landscapes 
and several sections of the marine coastal zone. The 
overall protected area was intended to be about 50,000 
square kilometers (20,000 square miles), or nearly thirty 
percent of Primorskii Krai. 


Unfortunately, those recommendations were not 
implemented, and no territories for priority subsistence 
use by local Native people were established— either in 
terms of the originally designated status (as Native 
ethnic territories) or of the size of the area to be set 
aside for protection. Some ideas from this 1989 pro- 
posal were considered separately under a later envi- 
ronmental conservation plan adopted by the regional 
government in the 1 990s. 

In approximately the same year (1 989 or 1 990), an- 
other Russian biologist, Lyudmila S. Bogoslovskaya 
(Bogoslovskaia) from the Moscow-based Severtsev In- 
stitute of Ecology, advanced a similar proposal. It ar- 
gued for the establishment of a specially designated, 
ethnic-ecological territory for the Native people of 
Chukotka, in the Bering Strait area. This huge, protected 
natural area, to be named Beringia Park (Behngiia), would 
be created on the Chukchi Peninsula. According to the 
initial outline, this territory would be designated under 
international biosphere reserve or national park status 
and would span both sides of the Bering Strait, one in 
Chukotka, Russia and the other in Alaska, on the U.S. 
side (Bogoslovskaia 1 990; International Park 1 989). 

The key purpose in creating a park on both sides 
of the Bering Strait was to preserve a contiguous 
ethnic territory (including the land and the coastal 
marine area) and a traditional resource management 
system based on sea-mammal hunting and fishing. 
The proposal strongly advocated revival of the tradi- 
tional settlement system and repopulation of several 
abandoned camps and villages of the Chukchi and Yupik 
(Asiatic Eskimo) indigenous people. The proposal also 
addressed the issue of restoring family and clan con- 
tacts among indigenous residents of the two countries. 
Such contacts had existed for centuries, until they were 
interrupted in the 1 940s [they remained disconnected 
between 1 948 and 1 988], because of the Cold War iso- 
lationist policy of the Soviet government. 

Bogoslovskaya's proposal, which was worked out 
by a team of experts in the early 1 990s, was one of 
the soundest attempts formulated for preserving north- 

1 1 8 

ern ethnographic landscapes of indigenous people. 
Unfortunately, the proposal could not be implemented 
in those years, because of the lack of appropriate leg- 

Only after the 1 995 adoption of the new federal 
law, "On the Status of Protected Natural Areas," was 
Beringia Nature-Ethnic Park established in the Chukchi 
Autonomous Area. This new park, however, is under 
local, not federal, jurisdiction— unlike the adjacent area 
across the Bering Strait in the U.S., which is designated 
as a federal preserve named Bering Land Bridge Na- 
tional Preserve. Since the new, Russian Beringia Na- 
ture-Ethnic Park is under the management of local en- 
vironmental protection agencies of the Chukchi Au- 
tonomous Area, few if any ideas from the original 1 989 
proposal have been implemented there. However, many 
ideas advanced during the development of the park 
were used later in similar proposals in other regions of 
the country and in the formulation of new legislative 

In the mid-1 990s, several new proposals for pro- 
tection of Native ethnic (ethnographic) territories 
were developed in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous 
Area [see Wiget and Balalaeva, this volume]. The 
development of new proposals was a by-product of 
the intensive oil and gas explorations in the area 
that posed a real threat to the region's natural envi- 
ronment and to the traditional habitation of the 
Khanty and Mansi indigenous people.^ The oil- and 
gas-rich Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area owns the 
bulk of Russia's energy resources; it is one of five 
regions of the country with the largest local bud- 
gets. Because of this new source of local funding, 
the area government is capable of undertaking a 
large number of its own environmental and cultural 
protection initiatives. 

During the 1 990s, the Khanty-Mansi local govern- 
ment supported (albeit rather reluctantly) two new trends 
in environmental protection policy: 

—Gradual expansion of the network of protected 
natural areas; 


33/ Khanty reindeer herders often keep their reindeer in 
time, such as this one atSalym River, 1999. 

—Creation of a system of Native "clan- and com- 
munity-owned lands" that belong to indigenous 
inhabitants (Merkushina and Novikov 1 998).^ 

The total area occupied by such clan and community 
lands of indigenous people is estimated to be nearly 
thirty percent of Khanty-Mansi's overall territory. These 
lands, as a rule, are territories of priority subsistence 
use and traditional resource management. 

The legal status of such Native-used lands is uncer- 
tain, if not precarious. At this writing, no law regarding 
the ownership of Native lands has been adopted by 
the local legislative body, the Regional Duma. Two 
draft versions of such a law are under consideration, 
and both have been in legislative discussion for a 
long time. In one version, Native lands are considered 
under land-law acts only. In the second version (intro- 
duced by a team chaired by Lyudmila Bogoslovskaya, 
now with the Russian Institute of Cultural and Natural 
Heritage), clan and community lands are considered 
portions of integral ecosystems, together with tradi- 
tionally used natural resources. These lands are also 
regarded as the basis for the social, cultural, and eco- 
nomic well-being of indigenous people who carry on 
traditional subsistence economy and ways of life 


smol<y log cabins to protect it from mosquitoes in summer 

(Obsuzhdenie kontseptsii 1 999). In this view, clan and 
community lands in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous 
Area may be considered (to a certain extent) legally 
established and legislatively approved Native ethno- 
graphic landscapes. 

In addition, three nature parks were established in 
1 998 in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area. Of those, 
Numto Lake Park and Konda Lakes Park are located in 
traditional subsistence areas of the Khanty and Nenets 
indigenous people. Those two nature parks may be 
considered closely associated with ethnographic terri- 
tories of local Native groups (communities). However, 
the actual preservation regime in both parks is based 
almost exclusively on protection of the natural envi- 
ronment; it bears little relevance to the issues of cul- 
ture and social policy regarding indigenous residents. 

A more recent initiative is dedicated to the cre- 
ation of a new type of protected natural and cultural 
territory in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area. The 
area under discussion is in the Bolshoy Salym River 
basin. Under this new initiative, an attempt was made 
to combine environmental protection policies with ef- 
forts to preserve the traditional management practices 
and cultural heritage of indigenous people (Figs. 33- 

1 1 9 

35). The name of the new protected area, Punsi, is taken 
from the name of a nearby lake and Native settlement; 
in the local Khanty dialect, the word means "duck 
down." The size of the area to be designated for pro- 
tection is about 6,500 square kilometers (2,600 square 

Proposals to establish a protected natural area in 
the Bolshoy Salym River basin were advanced more 
than ten years ago (in the late 1980s) by wetlands bi- 
ologists. The area considered is a combination of rela- 
tively undisturbed natural landscapes between the Salym 
and Yugan River valleys that are typical for a mid-taiga 
(boreal forest) zone. Across Western Siberia, most of 
these landscapes have been damaged irreparably dur- 
ing the last few decades by the virtually unchecked 
advance of Russia's oil-and-gas industries. The propos- 
als of the 1 980s argued for the creation of a protected 
natural territory (as a natural consen/ation area) to pre- 
serve undisturbed boreal wetland ecosystems that had 
unique value. In the original blueprint, the boundaries 
of the protected areas were to be drawn along the lines 
of specific river basins. This practice would apportion 
not only the large section of wetlands, but also the 
rivers and streams that feed them, as a key condition to 
the integrated protection of the characteristic boreal 
forest bog ecotone. 

The initial proposal, however, by no means consid- 
ered this region significant in terms of its unique eth- 
nographic value. Largely unbeknownst to wetland bi- 
ologists, the traditional boreal forest subsistence 
economy of the indigenous Khanty people has been 
fully preserved in this area. About ten traditional family 
camps and settlements are still used actively (Figs. 31 , 
32). The local Khanty families have preserved virtually 
all knowledge and skills related to their traditional way 
of life, subsistence technologies, and crafts (Salymskii 
krai 2000). The area also constitutes a unique habitat 
of Western Siberia's southernmost population of do- 
mestic reindeer. Because of these factors, the Salym 
(and Yugan) River basin offers fertile ground for any 
attempts to revive the traditional form of indigenous 

1 20 

economic activity, taiga reindeer herding (Fig. 33).'' 

The area also supports sustainable populations 
of many fur-bearing and game animals, including 
moose, river otter, and sable, which are critical for the 
survival of traditional ways of life. Here, a traditional 
Khanty system of landscape use remains intact 
through the variety of settlement patterns, and living 
and utility structures— including family and storage cab- 
ins, hunting lodges, fishing cabins and ponds, enclo- 
sures for domestic reindeer, traps set for wood grouse 
(Fig. 34), fishponds, and so on. Each family plot is filled 
with a system of paths that pass along solid ridge beds 
and over boggy areas; wood planks support many paths 
(Fig. 35).« 

The territory under discussion also has great archaeo- 
logical value. More than 200 historical sites have been 
identified there, including old settlements, abandoned 
ancient sites. Native graveyards, and sacred sites of 
various ages. This concentration of historical sites and 
monuments is very high for any given area within the 
boreal forest zone; thus, the Salym River basin may 
legitimately be called one of the core areas for the 
history of the Khanty nation. A large number of the 
documented archaeological monuments in the area are 
associated with ancestors of the modern-day Khanty 
(from the Bronze and Early Iron Ages). Those ancient 
settlements and sacred sites are often the basis of Khanty 
myths and legends, many of which can be linked with 
actual historical events. 

The area thus preserves a highly unique concentra- 
tion of historical and cultural monuments, a distinctive 
Native local group that has been using the region for 
several generations, and a highly developed system of 
nature management built of clan, family, and commu- 
nity lands. This northern ethnographic landscape is 
exceptional in its naturalness and state of preserva- 
tion. The combination of unique natural environ- 
ment and unprecedented sociocultural richness is 
the primary reason this region should be assigned 
the status of a protected natural and cultural area. 
Under existing Russian legislation, and considering 


34/ The author explores a Khanty wood grouse trap near Punsi Yourts, Salym River, 1 999. 

local economic realities, the best way to accom- 
plish this designation may be as a nature park, to be 
established, financed, and administered by the area 

Therefore, unlike earlier initiatives, the new pro- 
posals for the creation of Punsi Nature Park advocate 
establishing a specific nature-ethnographic complex 
(ethnographic landscape) as the primary objective (see 
Bolota i liudi 2000; Shul'gin 2003:38). This objective 
must be achieved by protecting the unique natural re- 
sources of the area and preserving the rich cultural 
heritage of the local indigenous people. Several other 
types of activities should be encouraged as well— for 
example, scientific research, museum work, and regu- 
lated tourism. 

The new nature park may also offer a highly valu- 
able contribution to raising the general educational 
potential of the region. Several special classes and pro- 
grams that supplement traditional school and college 
courses can be developed and conducted in the park. 

The first of these, of course, should be ecological edu- 
cation, boreal forest ecosystem studies, and study of 
the local Khanty lore. A summer educational camp for 
local students could be organized on the park's terri- 
tory, with courses in ecology and ethnography, as well 
as field archaeology, as the basic curriculum. Through 
cooperation with local schools and visiting scientists, 
the nature park will be able to train its own staff of 
rangers and workers, with a new sense of dedication 
toward the ecological and cultural tasks needed to re- 
vive their native land. 

Organized tourism may also turn out to be an im- 
portant supplement to activities of the future park. Rather 
than promoting mass flow of tourists to the area, the 
new proposals suggest a specialized program of tours 
for a small number of researchers and people who are 
interested in studying the unique natural environment 
or cultures and languages of the indigenous residents, 
the Khanty. A nature park, with its professional staff, 
will be able to accommodate these specific require- 



merits and (considering the low numbers of potential 
visitors) service the participants by using either local 
Khanty buildings or modern models of traditional dwell- 
ings. Such a specialized style of tourism could become 
an important source of income for the nature park. 

Utilizing the richness of potential educational and 
tourism experiences, of course, would be one of the 
primary goals of the future park's activities, which sug- 
gests the need to preserve the ethnic distinctiveness 
of its indigenous residents, the Salym River Khanty. 
This task should be achieved through support for, and 
even reintroduction of, local forms of nature manage- 
ment such as boreal forest reindeer herding, fishing, 
moose and bird hunting, and collection of local plants, 
mushrooms, and berries. In this way, the set of tradi- 
tional nature management practices and crafts techniques 
will be introduced as the components of the unique 
cultural heritage of the area. As a related benefit, a new 
nature park under such a pioneer design can offer em- 
ployment opportunities for several local residents; it 
can also develop economically viable formats for pre- 
serving and marketing local products such as mush- 
rooms, berries, and fish. 

These and many other ideas about the status and 
structure of the future park were first addressed in a 
more general manner at an international seminar on 
"Wetlands and Archaeology" (1 988). A more detailed 
proposal for a Punsi Natural and Ethnographic Area was 
prepared nearly ten years later by a team of experts 
from the RRICNH, in cooperation with other research- 
ers from Nefteyugansk, Moscow, Ekaterinburg, and St. 
Petersburg (Bolota i liudi 2000). At present, the govern- 
ment of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area is prepar- 
ing a package of legislative documents for the cre- 
ation of Punsi Nature Park. It is presumed that develop- 
ing the park's rather complex functional structure will 
be a long process. Eventually, the park is to become 
not only the key agency for local environmental pro- 
tection, but also a special organization with a strong 
humanitarian orientation and important social functions 
in the heavily industrialized Nefteyugansk Region. 

The forthcoming creation of Punsi Nature Park as a 
protected natural and cultural area in Western Siberia 
is one of a few attempts to jointly preserve natural 
and ethnographic landscapes across Russia. However, 
this project may provide a powerful impetus for simi- 
lar initiatives in other regions. It also may continue to 
be recognized as an important step in cultural preser- 
vation for Russia's indigenous people. Unlike the ef- 
forts of the 1 980s and even the early 1 990s, this project 
is no longer an isolated venture of a few concerned 
environmentalists. Active efforts are under way in the 
Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Areas 
within the scope of the newly created Numto Lake 
and Konda Lakes Nature Parks. New programs have 
been launched recently in both Khanty-Mansi and Yamal- 
Nenets areas to document and protect the sacred sites 
of local indigenous people (Balalaeva 1999; Kharyuchi, 
this volume). An ambitious program in documentation 
of historical and sacred sites is being conducted on 
Vaygach Island off the Russian Arctic coast under the 
leadership of Peter V. Boiarskii (Boiarskii 1 998, 2000). 

The staff of Ken ozersk National Park is undertaking 
one of the best-organized efforts in the restoration of 
traditional northern landscape. This park is in Arkhang- 
elsk Province, in the northern section of European Rus- 
sia, not far from the ancient Russian city of Kargopol. 
The associated program for restoring local landscapes 
is focused on the preservation of traditional land use 
and management practices of the resident Russian 
population. The economy is primarily rural, with tradi- 
tions of maintaining plowlands or arable lands, 
hayfields, and pastures, as well as fishing grounds. Ef- 
forts by Kenozersk National Park include restoration 
of old roads and residential, agricultural, and religious 
structures (wooden chapels and crosses). In fact, the 
park's primary goal is restoration of the traditional eth- 
nographic landscape of Northern Russia. This goal is a 
significant challenge for a local heritage program, be- 
cause of recent, drastic depopulation of the territory 
and a corresponding decrease in the number of re- 
maining rural settlements. 



35/ A wooden path (putik) through the marshes to the family reindeer pastures and fishing sites, Salym River, 

In recent years, the influential All-Russian Society 
for Protection of Nature (ARSPN), Russia's oldest non- 
governmental public association of environmentalists 
and natural scientists, has similarly been changing its 
focus. Moving beyond its traditional initiatives for ex- 
clusive protection of valuable natural areas and monu- 
ments, ARSPN argued recently for the establishment of 
a network of traditional nature-management areas. The 
proposed list includes some thirty-four areas that rep- 
resent specific ethno-ecological zones— natural habi- 
tats of compact residences of indigenous peoples and 
long-time Russian settlers. The areas nominated by 
ARSPN for special protection are located not only in 
Siberia and the North, but also in the Northern Caucasus 
(see Maksakovskii and Nikolaev 1 997). 


The idea of identifying and protecting ethnographic 
landscapes— as a key component in preserving the rich- 

ness of cultural heritage of Russia— has been under 
discussion by the Russian scientific community for more 
than ten years. Russian legislative practices, however, 
are lagging severely in meeting the practical needs 
that are essential to build viable mechanisms for pro- 
tection of the country's unique cultural and natural heri- 
tage. Until very recently, the lack of appropriate legis- 
lation significantly retarded the implementation of even 
the best ideas and most advanced local projects. Nev- 
ertheless, in recent years, several proposals to protect 
ethnographic landscapes have been at least partially 
implemented by taking advantage of provisions in some 
new Russian laws on the protection of natural areas. 

Such a policy is being pursued most actively in the 
Russian North, within the scope of the most recent 
efforts (after 1 990 and even after 1 995) for the creation 
of new nature and national parks. Many dedicated Rus- 
sian heritage and environmental scholars are conduct- 
ing corresponding, vigorous research. The visible, prac- 



tical results of all these efforts have facilitated several 
new legislative proposals, on both federal and regional 
levels, that eventually would help protect ethnographic 
landscapes, in conjunction with protection of the rich- 
ness of nature in the Russian Federation. 


Since the late 1 980s, the author has participated in many 
efforts to preserve cultural, historical, and natural heri- 
tage in Russia. This long experience testifies to the 
impossibility of achieving any kind of success without 
the close cooperation of many specialists, in social 
and environmental sciences alike. This article is a defi- 
nite reflection of such continuous cooperation. The 
author would like to express special gratitude to pro- 
fessor lurii (Yuri) A. Vedenin, who made the most help- 
ful contributions as a partner in long-term discussions 
of the concept of cultural landscape; to Lyudmila S. 
Bogoslovskaya, for help in the field of traditional man- 
agement practices and contemporary legislative issues; 
to N.B. Maksakovskii, for many consultations regard- 
ing the protection of natural heritage; to Igor Krupnik, 
for advancing the idea of this survey article and offer- 
ing many valuable comments; and to CP. Vizgalov, 
who has been the most active advocate for the cre- 
ation of Punsi Nature Park, and who invited the author 
to participate in this exciting project. Ceorgene Sink 
translated this paper and Igor Krupnik kindly checked 
the translation against its Russian original. 


1 . As of 1 999, the total number of cultural monu- 
ments under the Register of Protected Cultural Monu- 
ments of the Russian Federation was more than 
86,000. Of those, 24,192 were listed as historical 
monuments, 14,974 as archaeological monuments, 
22,500 as architectural and urban monuments, and 
2,357 as objects of monumental art (Vergunov et al. 

2. A very important new trend in heritage re- 
search and preservation in the 1 980s was the identi- 
fication and revival of historical techniques and tra- 
ditional forms of nature management (Danilova and 

1 24 

Sokolov 1998). Research into nature management, 
as a rule, began to be applied in the study of the 
cultural development of northern indigenous peoples 
or other minority groups of Russia (Raiony 
prozhivaniia 1991; Klokov 1997; Zaitseva 1997). Of 
course, this field of cultural heritage cannot be asso- 
ciated directly with historical and cultural monuments, 
under their present definition. In many cases, it has 
not even taken material form as any type of object 
that could be preserved in museum collections or 
directly at the locality. However, the sociocultural 
role of such elements of ethnic heritage is undis- 
puted. In some areas of Russia, especially in its north- 
ern and eastern sections, these elements play lead- 
ing roles. 

3. This bloody battle has been memorialized 
in numerous works of art, including Leo N. Tolstoy's 
War and Peace and Peter I. Tchaikovkii's /S/2 Over- 
ture, and discussed today on numerous sites on the 
World Wide Web. 

4. In the same year, 1989, Gaer was elected 
deputy of the Supreme Soviet (federal legislature) 
of the USSR from the huge Far Eastern legislative 
district. Gaer is a Native political activist and promi- 
nent figure in the indigenous rights movement of 
Native people of the nearby Amur River region. 

5. The development of new proposals prob- 
ably was connected even more closely with the cre- 
ation of several local administrative agencies after 
1 992. Locally tax-based budgets and policies offered 
increased independence to these agencies and en- 
abled them to address many regional issues. 

6. Under present-day Russian legislation, in- 
digenous people "lease" or "use" these lands. 

7. Once a widespread practice across the boreal 
forest zone, reindeer herding today has virtually be- 
come a lost art in most other regions of Siberia. 

8. On the whole, the system of family land-use 
in the Salym River basin is very close to the one 
documented by Andrew Wiget for the nearby Yugan 
River Khanty families (Wiget 1999; see also Wiget 
and Balalaeva, this volume). 

Balalaeva, Olga E. 

1999 Sviashchennye mesta khantov Srednei i 
Nizhnei Obi (Sacred sites of the Khanty of the Middle 
and Lower Ob River). In Ocherki istohi traditsionnogo 
zemlepol'zovaniia khantov (matehaly k atlasu), A. 
Wiget, ed., pp. 1 39-1 56. Ekaterinburg: Tezis Press. 


Bogoslovskaia, Lyudmila S. 

1 990 Mezhdunarodnyi park v Beringii. Kommentarii 
spetsialista (International park in the Beringia area: A 
specialist's commentary). Poliamik Augusts. 

Bogoslovskaia, Lyudmila S., ed. 

2000 Problemy traditsionnogo pnrodopol'zovaniia. 
Sever, Sibir' i Dal'nii Vostok Rossiiskoi Fedemtsii (Prob- 
lems of traditional nature management: The North, 
Siberia, and Far East of the Russian Federation). Mos- 
cow: Izdanie Cosudarstvennoi Dumy. 

Boiarskii, Petr V., ed. 

2000 Ostrov Vaygach. Kul'turnoe i primdnoe nasledie. 
Pamiatniki istohi i osvoeniia Arktiki ] (Vaygach Island: 
Cultural and natural heritage— monuments of history 
and of the Arctic explorations). Moscow: Institut 

Bolota i Mud! 

2000 Bolota i liudi: materialy mezhdunarodnogo 
seminara "Bolota i arkheologiia Wetlands and people: 
Proceedings from the international seminar "Wetlands 
and Archaeology"). Moscow: Institut Naslediia. 

Bromlei, lulian V. 

1981 Sovremennye problemy ethnogmfii: ocherki teorii 
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natural-landscape territories). Territory ^ 37-8. 



36/ Two Yamal Nenets men making sacrifice at the Khagen-Sale sacred site, Yamal, 1 928. 


~]"l^e of the |<C.hanttj (^^uiturai (Conservation frogran) 


Through the vagaries of history and politics, much of 
the world's land is controlled by states whose majority 
populations are culturally different from the resident, 
minority populations whose traditional lands they con- 
trol. Management regimes, even "conservation" ones, 
originated in the interests of the dominant culture and 
often began with the peculiarly Western distinction 
between nature and culture. In the preservation con- 
text, Cultural Resource Management (CRM) emerged 
from a recognition that culturally significant places and 
objects both encode and express the body of tradi- 
tional knowledge and values distinctive of a particular 
culture. Understanding the nature and role of such cul- 
tural resources is important for developing culturally 
compatible resource-use policies because cultural re- 
sources encode the framework of beliefs and values 
that motivate behavior. 

The advantage that the concept of "ethnographic 
landscape" brings to cultural anthropology, preserva- 
tion discourse, and CRM is that it invites the dominant 
culture to understand in local terms the functional and 
semantic interrelationships among elements that are 
often understood and managed separately. Adequately 
translating this concept into practice thus should result 
in a management program that is not only more equi- 
table, because it is adapted to the needs of both domi- 
nant and resident cultures, but one that is more effec- 
tive, since it accounts for more complex interrelation- 
ships that motivate behaviors. The present experience 
in northern Eurasia, however, suggests that ecological 
rather than anthropological issues dominate cultural 

landscape policies (Domke and Succow 1 998). In the 
broader conservation vision, what is needed is a means 
of balancing ecological, historical preservation and 
cultural conservation priorities. 

This paper describes an ongoing effort to strike such 
a balance by incorporating elements of ethnographic 
landscape study into a plan to define the boundaries 
and zonation scheme for a proposed, co-managed pro- 
tected area in the territory of the Yugan Khanty people 
of Western Siberia. 

The Context for the Khanty Cultural Con- 
servation Program 

The Khanty are one of Russia's forty-five northern tribal 
peoples whose total population is less than 200,000.' 
Some of these tribes, like the Khanty, survive in terri- 
tory that has been their home for thousands of years 
since before the Russians came. Khanty culture was 
born in and is specifically adapted to the forest-and- 
swamp ecosystem of the West Siberian boreal forest. 
Western Siberia is dominated by the Ob-lrtysh River 
system, the third largest river system in the world in 
terms of volume of water. The limits of the Middle Ob 
River basin correspond roughly to the northern and 
southern boundaries of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area, 
or okrug (KMAO; see Fig. 37). Today the low sand hills 
and higher ridges dotting and edging the floodplain, 
which, until the 1 950s, supported a unique, heavily ac- 
culturated Khanty cultural formation, now support most 
of the area's urban population and the transport and 
petroleum production infrastructure. From the city of 


Nizhnevartovsk on the east to the area capital of 
Khanty-Mansiysk on the west, a distance of approxi- 
mately 1 ,000 kilometers (or 650 miles), the Ob River 
drops only fifty meters (1 64 feet). 

North of the middle Ob River valley, the land slopes 
gently in a southeastedy direction drained by several 
major Ob tributaries— the Lyamin, Pim, and Trom-Agan 
Rivers. Except for birch-dark conifer and aspen-cedar 
forests along the rivers, most of the landscape between 
the highlands and the Ob River floodplain consists of 
lakes, ponds, and muskeg swamps. Perhaps more than 
fifty percent of the surface area is water. South of the 
middle Ob, the land slopes gently, dropping less than 
sixty meters in the 500 kilometers (310 miles) between 
the highlands and the Ob floodplain. Highland muskeg 
swamps drain into large river systems— the Bolshoi (Big) 
and Maiyi (Little) Yugan, Salym, and Balyk Rivers. The 
proportion of higher land and pine-green moss forests 
to swamp is much greater than in the north. Rapid freez- 
ing leads to a winter period of uninterrupted frost for 
145 to 1 55 days, with an average low of -20 to -35°C. 
and maximum lows near -5 5°C. This is followed by rapid 
thawing, flooding, and hot summers, heavy with mos- 
quitoes, with average high temperatures around -i-20°C 
and maximum highs around -i-37°C. The whole region 
has permafrost about six meters (twenty feet) below the 

Among the 22,000 or so Khanty, three groups- 
Northern, Southern, and Eastern— can be distinguished 
by differences in dialect, subsistence patterns, and ma- 
terial culture. Northern Khanty live in the Beloyarsk 
and Salekhard Districts. The Eastern Khanty, the focus 
of this project, are located principally in Khanty-Mansi 
Autonomous Okrug. The Khanty still maintain their clan 
system and their traditional way of life in widely sepa- 
rated extended family settlements in traditional hunt- 
ing territories. Everywhere they support themselves 
through hunting and the trapping of furbearers like sable 
and fox. Fish constitute a large part of their diet, but 
reindeer herding is common north of the Ob, hunting 
moose and wild reindeer south of the Ob River. 

1 32 

Most Khanty are literate in Russian and fluently bi- 
lingual, but prefer to speak Khanty. And despite the 
efforts of the Orthodox Church, which in some areas 
has gained converts of varying degrees of allegiance, 
and despite the suppression of Native religion under 
the Soviets, traditional belief and ritual still flourish. 
The Khanty believe in a three-zone cosmos with this 
middle world existing between an upper sky world 
and an underworld. Each of these is divided into seven 
levels. The high god, Numi Torum, cannot be ap- 
proached directly, but only through addressing one or 
more of his seven sons and seven daughters, each of 
whom became a patron of some dimension of the natu- 
ral world: rivers, fish, animals. The youngest son in his 
human incarnation was elevated to the senior position 
among the sons, and in his animal incarnation became 
Bear, the master of the forest. As with many northern 
peoples, a special Bear Festival is occasionally cel- 
ebrated to honor a bear that has been killed (Schmidt 
1 987, 1 989). 

Because the patrons of the major tributary river sys- 
tems are also lineage-founding deities, different Khanty 
clans claim traditional use rights to different river sys- 
tems tributary to the Ob. Most Khanty extended fami- 
lies live on traditional family hunting territories pro- 
tected by family gods who are considered offspring of 
these lineage-founding deities. Khanty thus believe that 
sacred power has been historically invested in both 
the landscape and the lineage. These gods are said to 
live in specific sacred places and often have shrines 
marking these sites. The gods are worshiped through 
blood sacrifice (yir) of animals, especially reindeer, 
and through bloodless sacrifice (porK) of boiled meat. 
Prayer and sacrifice ensure protection from and heal- 
ing of disease and injury, long life, tranquility, fertility, 
and prosperity. A variety of factors contributes to this 
cultural persistence (Rushforth and Chisholm 1 991 :1 6- 
1 7), but there continues to be enough acculturative 
pressures that some are redefining their cultural heri- 
tage in ways that have been called neotraditional (Pika 
1 999). 


37/ The Middle Ob River Basin. Tine dotted line marks the area of Eastern Khanty 
settlement. Their communities are associated with different river systems. 

Now, after millennia, Khanty land and culture are 
threatened with destruction. In the late 1960s, oil 
was first discovered in West Siberia. At that time, 
the town of Surgut had less than 10,000 people. By 
the late 1 980s all but a few areas (Kazym River, Yugan 
River basin) had been seized by the Ministry of Energy 
and the government oil monopoly, and the region vir- 
tually supported a collapsing Soviet economy by pro- 
viding cheap domestic petroleum and petro-dollars 
generated from export. Today the Khanty-Mansi Au- 
tonomous Area is the site of one of the world's most 
extensive petroleum developments, Surgut has 
280,000 people, and the area's population has swelled 
to over a million, swamping the less than 1 0,000 Khanty 
and Mansi indigenous people (Wiget and Balalaeva 
1 996). 

The process of production during the Soviet pe- 
riod was characterized by a minimal regard for en- 
vironmental protection, preservation of cultural prop- 
erties, and effective consultation with indigenous 
peoples. Khanty families, like those on the Agan River, 
were forcibly relocated into villages from their tradi- 

tional family hunting territo- 
ries, or driven into villages 
by the destruction of their 
land's subsistence productiv- 
ity, as on the lower Pirn and 
Trom-Agan River systems. 

However it may be re- 
garded elsewhere, the col- 
lapse of the Soviet Union has 
been devastating socially, 
culturally, economically, 
and ecologically for the 
Eastern Khanty and their 
land. Profiteering by priva- 
tized oil companies coupled 
with the internal debt crisis 
has meant that deteriorating 
pipelines and aging equip- 
ment have not been replaced. 
The low productivity of individual well clusters (some 
leave more than fifty percent of the oil in the ground) 
and spillage (more than 3,000 pipeline breaks occur a 
year) drives the expansion into new territories for 

Recognizing the extent of the environmental de- 
struction that had resulted from petroleum develop- 
ment, and pressured by Russian environmentalists and 
scientists, the Soviet government in 1 982 authorized 
the establishment of the Yugan Zapovednik (Nature 
Preserve) in the territory embraced by the two arms 
of the Bolshoi and Maiyi Yugan Rivers, to preserve 
some of this magnificent and unique boreal forest 
ecosystem (Fig. 38). The Khanty families who live 
along these rivers in more than fifty extended family 
settlements were compelled to sacrifice their winter 
hunting territories for the new nature preserve. Noth- 
ing addressed the cultural conservation needs of the 
Yugan Khanty. 

At the 1 987 meeting of Yugan Khanty hunters and 
fishermen, Vladimir Kogonchin of Ugut proposed that 
the community apply to the Supreme Soviet [of the 


former Soviet Union] to designate the Yugan basin a 
zone of priority land use, a "green zone." Attempts 
were made to advance this proposal informally, even 
at the highest levels; but nothing came of this effort. 
On May 6, 1 990, Khanty representatives to the KMAO 
Council of People's Deputies worked to pass through 
the Council of People's Deputies a bill that, building on 
the "green zone" concept, gave special status to the 
Khanty family hunting territories and that assigned tra- 
ditional uses of the land priority over other forms of 
development, including industrial uses such as petro- 
leum production and timber harvesting. On the Yugan, 
such a "zone of Khanty living" was defined and a pro- 
posal to set aside a zone of special land use was sent 
to the government, but again nothing came of it. 

History of the Khanty Cultural Conserva- 
tion Program 

In 1 993 we were asked to review a draft of the environ- 
mental impact assessment for the World Bank's Sec- 
ond Oil Rehabilitation Project in Khanty-Mansi Au- 
tonomous Okrug. That document claimed there was 
only one site of any cultural and historical significance 
in the entire eastern half of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous 
Okrug. By its silence, the document seemed to pro- 
claim that Eastern Khanty culture, for all practical pur- 
poses, was non-existent, not a factor to be seriously 
calculated in the development equation. Unlike the 
situation in many densely populated regions of devel- 
oped countries, where publication of the location of 
culturally significant places combines with ease of ac- 
cess to hasten looting, vandalism, or destruction of 
such places; in Siberia it is silence, not publication, that 
contributes to the destruction of the ethnographic land- 
scape. Because the nature and extent of the Siberian 
boreal forest is an obstacle to general access, only oil 
companies and other entities with helicopters and other 
specialized means of transport can threaten the cul- 
tural landscape. And they can do it in the absence of 
witnesses, appealing disingenuously to the lack of in- 
formation concerning these places. Our first projects, 

1 34 

therefore, were born from the real need to restore to 
public consciousness both the historical and the con- 
temporary presence of the Khanty on the land and to 
create conditions underwhich deniability is impossible.^ 

The 'Sacred Trust' Project (1 994-95) aimed to de- 
velop the basic data needed to support any plan for 
preserving Khanty sacred places and guaranteeing ac- 
cess to them. Given the limitations and unsystematic 
nature of previous ethnography in the area, we focused 
on identifying sacred places and determining the crite- 
ria by which the Khanty assign religious significance to 
features of the landscape and river systems. In this, we 
followed established western models, especially com- 
parable work among Native American tribes (Kelly and 
Francis 1 994; Basso 1 996). 

A scientific classification of Eastern Khanty sacred 
places has not yet been developed. Our more modest 
task has been to formulate a working typology, based 
on our materials from extensive field surveys, the work 
of folklore-ethnographic expeditions to the Kazym re- 
gion from Urals State University, and a review of the 
ethnographic literature (Balalaeva 1 999). On this basis, 
we can distinguish two main categories of sacred places: 

(1) unmodified features of the natural landscape, and 

(2) landscape features modified by the addition of cul- 
tural elements. The first type— natural sacred places- 
can be classified according to their basic elements into 
two groups, water features and landforms. 

Water forms include a variety of phenomena con- 
nected with water: lakes, swamps, small rivers, ponds, 
whirlpools, confluences, rapids, and turns in the river 
(Fig. 38). Khanty believe that they depend on the spir- 
its living in these places for luck in fishing and good 
fortune generally, and try to make the spirits more be- 
neficent by throwing offerings of money or dried bread 
into the water. The size and nature of the offering differ 
in each case, and the importance of the offering de- 
pends on the reasons for making the offering. 

Large natural features in this category are lakes, 
rivers, and swamps. Often the place name of the sa- 
cred water reserves includes lexemes such as yimyng 


38/Aenal view of the Bolshoi Yugan River basin. The area is a rich forest-riverine environment for which the local 
Khanty community has spent the last / 5 years trying to secure a protected status. 

(sacred). On the Yugan River, Lake Larlumkina is consid- 
ered sacred. According to myth, warrior gods had a 
fight above this lake. When the local god was 
wounded, the reindeer drawing his sled dived into the 
water and now they are there, underneath the lake, 
two reindeer bulls. The local warrior god flew up into 
the sky, transformed into thunder, and became the 
god Chuv Iki. When the fishermen set the nets, some- 
times the nets are stuck, and the fishermen say that 
the nets are stuck on the antlers of these reindeer. It is 
taboo to cross this lake directly; one must make a 
circle along the shore. The belief that different kinds of 
spirits live in these lakes is widespread. The basins of 
Kazym, Vakh, and Yugan Rivers have sacred lakes 
where, according to local beliefs, water spirits live that 
look like very big pike with horns. A subgroup of smaller 
water features includes ponds, as well as whirlpools. 

rapids, turns, and confluences of rivers. In the upper 
part of Maiyi Yugan River, above Achimovy settlement, 
there is also a whirlpool that is connected with mytho- 
logical legends of Tondor Iki, the main deity of this river. 
According to local beliefs, one should throw two or 
three pieces of dried bread into this whirlpool. "If one 
does not throw the dried bread, this god, this Tondor 
Iki, won't like it; and he might punish you." 

Landforms comprise the second major category 
of natural sacred places. Most prominent here are high 
places that include hillocks, hills, ridges, and very high 
hills. Another subgroup consists of promontories and 
islands, a group including higher, dry places in swamps. 
A third, smaller group consists of groves, mostly birch, 
small patches of forest. A fourth group consists of indi- 
vidual sacred trees of unusual shape or rare types and 
individual stones, also with unusual size or shape. 



High places in the Ob River basin are relatively rare. 
This singularity and the dominating character of such 
formations naturally predispose the sacralizing, or sanc- 
tifying, of these objects. Almost all the distinguished 
high places have sacred status and, accordingly, ritual 
and mythological significance. On the Yugan, Trom- 
Agan, and Pirn Rivers, sacred high places are most of- 
ten called kot myx, meaning "earth house." A kot myx 
is a god's house. On Trom-Agan, above the mouth of 
its tributary, Ai-Trom-Agan, there is a sacred place for 
all Ob Khanty, a hill called Tomm Yaoun Kot Myx. Offer- 
ings are taken there regularly at the beginning of sea- 
sonal activities and sporadically for other reasons. On 
the top of the hill is a high, distinguished pine tree on 
which Khanty hang pieces of fabric. The Trom-Agan 
Khanty say that the mountain with the pine tree is 
nothing other than the house with the chimney pipe. 
Newly married Khanty follow custom by going to this 
place to pray and make an offering at the beginning of 
their married life. Women are prohibited to go to the 
top of the hill. In this case, the husband climbs to the 
top to make the offering, and the new wife stays in 
the boat by the shore. Also, usually, it is taboo to re- 
move something from a kot myx. There is a whole 
group of stories concerning people who violated this 

39/ Map of sacred sites of the Yugan Khanty area, 1998. 

taboo, for example, by breaking a branch of a tree on 
a kot myx, with the result that the offender's arm with- 
ered or he died. The owner of a kot myx could be not 
only one of the river patron deities, venerated by the 
whole community, but also a family spirit. Thus, on 
Kanterov family land in the Pirn River basin, there is 
sacred Ochet Vut Mutikh Kot Myx. This is a Kanterov 
sacred place where their family hlung (spirit) lives. Women 
of this family take wood from this place for the images 
they make of their personal protecting spirits. 

Kot myx are a particularly threatened group of 
sacred sites. In the lower part of Bolshoi Yugan, it is 
said, there was a sacred place for all Ob' Khanty 
mentioned long ago by Dunin-Corkavitch 
(1 995:1 50), Yegutskaya [Evutskaya] Cora. Khanty from 
different places came here to make offerings. In the 
1 970s this sacred mountain was in a territory of oil 
development and almost leveled, but there are still 
stories devoted to this hill in local oral tradition. On 
Trom-Agan River a high place dedicated to Yaoun Imi, 
the Old Woman of the River, was destroyed entirely. 
Now only a large hole in the ground exists where once 
a hill stood. This is because the hills are made entirely 
of sand, which is dug up as the material for the road- 
bed construction throughout Western Siberia (Fig 40). 

In the end our fieldwork iden- 
tified more than seventy-five 
Khanty sacred places in the 
Surgut region alone (Balalaeva 
1999; Fig. 39). Maps of sacred 
sites in different Khanty residence 
areas were produced using Geo- 
graphic Information System (CIS). 
This work was the only report 
on Siberia presented at the 
UNESCO Conference on Natural 
Sacred Sites in Paris in Septem- 
ber 1998. 

The Khanty Traditional Land- 
Use Atlas Project (1996-98) was 
a two-year, international collabo- 

Family Hunting 
Territory Boundary 


rative research project in applied social sciences with 
Russian colleagues from Urals State University in the 
city of Ekaterinburg (Yekaterinburg) and supported 
by the then called Ministry of Nationality Affairs and 
Regional Policy of the Russian Federation. 

The project grew out of our increasing concern 
that petroleum development was threatening Khanty 
culture by destroying the physical environment to 
which Khanty subsistence-based culture was specifi- 
cally adapted (Wiget and Balalaeva 1 996; Wiget 1 999b). 
The entire region suffers from soil, water, and air pollu- 
tion, which degrade the land upon which Khanty sub- 
sistence hunters and fishermen depend. One of our in- 
formants told us that in spring the Agan River is "just 
one big oil slick." According to men who formerly 
worked in the fishing collective on Agan, 200 tons of 
fish a year were brought out of the river; by the 1 980s 
after the onslaught of oil development, that had 
dropped to 1 00 tons a year; in 1 995, when we talked 

to them, that figure had diminished to only twenty 
tons. On the middle Trom-Agan River, Khanty report 
that furbearers (fox, wolverine) and predators (bear, 
wolf) have virtually fled the area in the last five to 
eight years as a result of oil development. One 
woman reported that her son-in-law lost his entire 
herd of TOO reindeer when they drank polluted 

To demonstrate the effect of oil development on 
Khanty life, the Atlas project aimed to provide the first 
contemporary, broadbased, and integrated documenta- 
tion of many categories of Khanty traditional land use: 

—Traditional and contemporary settlements, both 
individual extended family settlements and villages; 

—Individual family hunting territories; 

—Places of cultural significance, including cultic sites, 
sites with mythical associations, traditional cem- 

—Archaeological sites; 



Yugan Zapovednik 
Sacred Place 

Summer House 
Transit Camp 
Winter House 

Cedar Nuts 



3 Projected Oil Development 

Winter Fishing 

i Hunting Terr Boundary 
^ ' Surgut Region Boundary 

4 // yassWy Kaimysov's hunting territory, on Moiyi Yugan River, showing subsis- 
tence areas, sacred places, and projected oil license territory. 

—Other land use features, such as reindeer trails, 
communal hunting lands, fishing, hunting, gather- 
ing, and pasturing areas, and so on. 

Additional maps highlighted the development of in- 
dustrialization and infrastructure associated with these 
lands. All identified sites were accompanied by an 
ethnohistoric description. All data were compiled into 
a computerized database integrated with an ArcView 
CIS computerized mapping program. 

The specific objectives of the project were to pro- 
duce cartographic representations of the many types 
of data, linked to a comprehensive computerized da- 
tabase, and framed by interpretive, scholarly essays: 

1) regional settlement patterns, either archaeo- 
logical or historic (abandoned or contemporary); 

1 38 

(a) individual, extended fam- 
ily settlements, and (b) villages; 

2) regional traditional religious 
resources, especially: (a) 
places of cultic activity, in- 
cluding (al) sacrificing places 
and (a2) shrines; (b) landforms 
with cultural value derived 
from specific mythological, 
legendary or historical asso- 
ciation; (c) landforms with cul- 
tural value derived from asso- 
ciation with classes of spirits; 
(d) cemeteries; 

3) regional traditional eco- 
nomic resources, including: (a) 
boundaries of family hunting 
territories; (b) hunting, fishing, 
berry picking, pasturing (rein- 
deer) resources; (c) communal 
lands; (d) reindeer trails, por- 
tages, and other transporta- 
tion routes; 

4) microstudies of traditional 
land use in six Khanty family 
hunting territories represent- 
ing variations in ecosystems, 
subsistence economy, family 
size, and proximity to devel- 
opment territories. 

As a complement to these comprehensive area maps 
of the region, intensive studies of traditional land use 
were undertaken on six family hunting territories, re- 
flecting the wide regional differences in Khanty cul- 
tural patterns (Wiget 1999a). Figure 41 is a resource 
exploitation map drawn with the help of one large 
Khanty extended family numbering about thirty people 
living on the upper reaches of the Maiyi Yugan River.^ 
The map illustrates the principal types of flora and fauna 
harvested in the hunting territory, as well as the per- 
manent winter and summer residences and the transi- 
tional camps used during the spring and fall move- 
ments between the permanent houses. Note that the 
oil license territory impinges on their main source of 
winter food, both fish and moose, and harvestable 


furs. The results of the project were published in 1 999, 
with several family hunting maps attached (Wiget 
1 999a; Ocherki 1 999); the book was distributed with- 
out charge to Khanty leaders and regional and area 
administration officials to serve as a fundamental plan- 
ning document. It is already playing an important role 
in support of the efforts to gain a protected area sta- 
tus for the Yugan Khanty community's traditional lands 
in the Yugan River basin. 

At approximately the same time the Sacred Trust 
Project was being completed and the Atlas project 
was being prepared, the co-authors, working with the 
head of the Yugan Khanty community association 
"Yaoun Yakh" and the staff of the Yugan Zapovednik 
(Federal Nature Reserve), began to prepare a strategy 
for preserving the Yugan basin based on the creation 
of a UNESCO-type Biosphere Reserve. The plan aimed 
to create a complex, co-managed territory that linked 
the 600,000-hectare (2,300 square miles) Yugan 
Zapovednik (an existing Russian Federal Nature Reserve) 
as a core area to a newly created, federal-status area 
consisting of the 1.7 million hectares (6,500 square 
miles) of Yugan Khanty family 
hunting territories comprising 
most of the watersheds of the 
Bolshoi and Maiyi Yugan Riv- 
ers. Working with local govern- 
ment authorities, leaders in the 
Khanty community, and 
Khanty families, we defined rea- 
sonable boundaries for the vari- 
ous areas in the proposed bio- 
sphere reserve (Fig. 42). 

Because of a variety of 
negative consequences that 
could result from linking the 
Khanty lands to the 
Zapovednik, as well as the po- 
litical unwillingness of the lo- 
cal administration to cede more 
land to federal government 

control, the original plan has been amended. The cur- 
rent plan was worked out in consultation with the 
Khanty community, the Surgut regional and Khanty- 
Mansi Autonomous Area administrations, representa- 
tives of Ecojuris (a Moscow-based environmental law 
NGO [non-governmental organization]), and the authors. 
It abandons the entanglement with federal jurisdiction 
by avoiding a formal connection with the Yugan Fed- 
eral Nature Reserve and envisions a two-step process. 
The first step is the creation of a protected area com- 
posed of Khanty family hunting territories along the 
Bolshoi and MaIyi Yugan Rivers (OTTP, Russian - 
Okhmniaemaia Territohia Traditsionnogo Pnrodopol'- 
zovaniia [Protected Territory of Traditional Land Use]) 
with protected status awarded by Khanty-Mansi Au- 
tonomous Okrug; after establishment, application 
would be made to UNESCO for international recogni- 
tion as biosphere reserve (Wiget and Balalaeva 1 997, 
1998b, 1999). 

To provide the scientific data necessary to develop 
effective co-management policies for the Yugan pro- 
tected area, we engaged in two projects. The area 

Limited Protection, 
IVIonitored Industry 

Strict Protection, No 
Industrial Development 

/V^ Family Hunting 
' Territory Boundary 

42/ Proposed Yugan Khanty "Protected Territory of Traditional Land Use" 


Ethnoecological Survey (1 998-99) represented the nec- 
essary first step in the transformation of the previously 
supported scientific research, network building, and 
community development into concrete strategy to re- 
alize the cultural conservation goals of the proposers' 
prior work among the Eastern Khanty. Extending mod- 
els of gathering data for the traditional land-use study 
first piloted for the Khanty Atlas Project, the project 
developed the ethnographic, socioeconomic, and 
ecosystemic data necessary to establish baseline pa- 
rameters for common planning of scientific and com- 
munity development projects in the proposed Yugan 
Khanty Biosphere Reserve. As described below, over 
the course of those two years, we visited every family 
hunting territority, administering a comprehensive sur- 
vey instrument and working with the landholding fami- 
lies to map their land use. By 2002, we completed a 
Cultural Resource Inventory and Assessment of the Pro- 
posed Yugan Khanty Biosphere Reserve. This project 
provides for an inventory and assessment of cultural 
resources in the Yugan Khanty community necessary 
to supplement the inventory of traditional economic 
resources and practices completed in the previous 
project. Taken together, these two projects offered a 
comprehensive representation of the cultural and eco- 
logical conservation issues that will be the focus of 
the comanagement plan governing the administration 
of the proposed protected area. This paper explores 
these projects and the lessons being learned from them. 


For our work, we began with the hypothesis, central 
to ethnographic landscape studies, that all uses of land- 
scape are cultural, that treating traditional land use as 
something separate from understandings of landscapes 
will result in false conclusions that undermine attempts 
to create effective management policies (Brody 1981). 

An ethnoecological survey attempts to create an 
organized body of data on how a traditional cultural 
community uses the land and resources on which it 
depends. The necessity for developing such an under- 

1 40 

standing has been confirmed by the practical experi- 
ence of conservationists around the world who know 
that, despite popular stereotypes, the conservation prac- 
tices of indigenous peoples, who do have an interest 
in sustainable harvest, nevertheless are not always con- 
sistent with the best conservation practices of Western 
science. Insofar as conservation activity impacts re- 
sources, economies, and populations, it serves a vari- 
ety of political interests; and conservationists continu- 
ally strive to find mechanisms to effectively negotiate 
"best practice" from among these interests. Moreover, 
one of the interests against which conservation of the 
physical environment, its flora, and fauna, must always 
be balanced is the preservation of cultural practices 
that contribute to a specific historic and sociocultural 
community identity. 

An ethnoecological survey gathers data on: 

—Kinds of natural resources on which a commu- 
nity depends 

—Amounts of resources required for a self-identi- 
fied "acceptable" standard of living in specific types 
of economy 

—Patterns of land use in which individuals are en- 
gaged to secure the natural resources they need 

—Relationships between fundamental needs such 
as family size and health, the claim on resources 
made in the name of these fundamental needs, and 
the instrumentalities (material base) used to secure 
satisfaction for these needs. 

The kinds of data gathered enable the discovery of 
broad patterns of behavior that reflect community prac- 
tice. Although these kinds of data are most economi- 
cally gathered through an interview instrument that 
will generate a coherent data set (Table 1 ), even in the 
best of circumstances (working with a small village 
population, for example) confirmation of survey results 
should come from field observations. 

At the same time, because the practices described 
have a geographic dimension, affecting specific popu- 
lations in specific ecosystems, it is impossible to un- 
derstand the data without mapping. Consequently, in 


Table 1 : Sample Entry in the Yugan Khanty Sacred Site Register 

Site Name: 

Site Number; 



Location (Decimal degrees): 
River System: 

Extended family settlement: 
Administrative Unit: 
Village Administration: 

Description: Location 

Description: Access 

Description: Site 

Description: Boundaries 

Significance (Provide Oral, 
Historical Information, 
Local Toponymic Legend): 



(Khanty) Torum Kur Pur Wethlem Wantvng 
(English) Where Torom Put His Foot Down 


IV, Modified Landscape 

Landform with izbushka [sacred log house] 

N 59.1 5, E74.21 

Bolshoi Yugan 


Surgut Region 


None. The former keeper passed away. Now access is unregulated, though 
it is customary to inform Yefim Kolsomov, the owner of the local hunting 
territory on which the site exists, of the intention to visit the site. 

The site is on the west bank of the upper Bolshoi Yugan River, just 
above Kolsomovy extended family settlement. The site is not visible from the 
river. One would have to know its location to know where to take the boat to 
shore. Yefim Kolsomov took me there. The site gets its name from a depression in 
the skyline formed by the treetops against the background of the western sky. 

There is a wide, shallow cove in the west bank of the river. The land slopes 
gently from the forest edge to the water, a distance of about 20 meters, with 
tall grass rising out of the sand the entire way, fallen willow saplings, and 
other flood debris. Once in the forest, there is a very narrow, but visible trail. Still, 
it is hardly worn. The trail crosses through the forest a distance of no more than 
1 00 meters. 

The trail comes to a small izbushka or cabin (see Fig. 44), about 2.5 meters 
long on its front, short side and 3 meters on its long side. The roof peak is no 
more than 1.5 meters. A black cloth covers the door opening. Inside is a bare 
plank floor with a single shaitan, or idol, standing against the back wall. There 
is also a glass jar in which people have left paper money and coins. 
Following a trail from the doorway along the left side of the izbushka, behind 
it into the forest no more than 1 meters, one finds a single "retired" shaitan, 
left to decompose and return to the forest. About 20 meters north of the clearing 
where the izbushka sits is a small stream, also a significant feature. 

The significant area is a geophysical depression "where Torom put his foot down." 
The small stream (summary of toponymic legend, below) bound this area on the 
north, Bolshoi Yugan River on the east side, and by locally elevated heights of land 
that form the rim of the depressed area on the west and south side. 

Torom (The Khanty high god) wanted to see how things were on earth. He leaned 
over from the sky and put one of his feet down, stepping onto the earth. That's 
how this place was formed and still keeps the shape of Torom's foot. Where 
Torom stepped down, a stream emerged. People are prohibited from looking at 
this stream under penalty of being blinded. This is a summary of a toponymic 
legend, now forgotten. It was compiled from elements provided by Yefim 
Kolsomov and Pyotr Vassilievich Kurlomkin. 

According to visual evidence of money deposited and oral testimony by Yefim 
Kolsomov, the site is still being used, especially by families in the upper part of 
Bolshoi Yugan and by travelers. 

Good. No vandalism reported. 

addition to completing the survey instrument, hunt- 
ers themselves are asked to mark particular kinds 
of land-use patterns on maps brought into the field. 
The statistical data would then be compiled into 
databases, which would be imported into a CIS 
and linked to digitized cartography for the pur- 


poses of both analyses and representation. 

As extensive as the ethnoecological survey was, 
we understood that it was incomplete in itself. We 
knew that to understand both Yugan Khanty hunting 
and conservation practices, we needed a clear sense 
of their cultural values and how those values are 


put into play in decision-making and norm-mainte- 
nance behaviors. This required on-site documenta- 
tion of oral traditions, both folkloric and historical, which 
encode Khanty cultural values and practices; both struc- 
tured and unstructured interviews; and as well as ob- 
servation and documentation of seasonal practices. 
We also needed to complete gathering basic data 
on other kinds of cultural resources, such as archaeo- 
logical resources, which were very poorly understood 
and yet beyond our competency. Trying to accom- 
plish these goals while also gathering the statistical 
information was simply logisticaliy impossible. We are 
in the process of integrating this cultural data, although 
gathered separately, with the ethnoecological survey 
data, acquiring the necessary base layer satellite im- 
agery to map both ethnoecological and cultural re- 
sources in a usable CIS format. 

Community Engagement 

Often overlooked in community relations is that most 
of these relationships are formed and sustained in dis- 
cursive contexts, where key terms like "tribal," "cul- 
ture," "minority," "ecology," "subsistence," and other 
less obvious ones like "dependence" and "necessity" 
and even "science" have been assigned different defi- 
nitions and values by the parties involved. Three dis- 
courses, which have a heightened potency in Russia, 
have substantially affected the representation and in- 
terpretation of our work with ethnographic landscapes 
and indigenous peoples (Wiget and Balalaeva 1 998a). 

Perhaps more than any other country in the experi- 
ence of both co-authors, Russia is committed to the 
ideology of progress, which, when dealing with its in- 
digenous northern minorities, at best emerges as a will- 
ful paternalism and at worst as the most brutal and 
self-serving kind of rationalization for exploitation. Cer- 
tainly much of this is rooted in a Marxist ideology of 
the inevitable succession of economic systems, which 
consequently views Khanty and others like them as 
doomed archaisms. More importantly, however, the 
effects of centralized thinking still linger in bureaucratic 

and administrative paternalism: in the preference for 
industrialization over other forms of development; in 
the assumption that indigenous peoples ought to be 
"modernized," though, of course, in as accommodat- 
ing a manner as possible, because they will be inevita- 
bly modernized, in any case; in the legal legacy of state- 
controlled land. This complex of paternalism and self- 
justif/ing fatalism is also reflected in the emergence of 
Russian populist conservation ideology, in general. 

Preservationists might appear to be logical allies, 
because a strict preservationist philosophy protects 
historical resources in the territory of potential devel- 
opment. Nevertheless, the opportunities for indigenous 
peoples to seek protection under Russian historic pres- 
ervation law is practically limited in several ways. First, 
as in the West, this protection is extended principally 
to monuments or structures of cultural and historical 
significance. The emphasis on the built environment 
predisposes preservationists to undervalue sites of his- 
torical and cultural significance to traditional peoples 
and which are often unmodified landscape features, 
—high places, sacred groves of trees, river confluences, 
sandbars, and so on (Fig. 43)— or, if modified, are distin- 
guished by structures without apparent architectural 
significance. Secondly, for all practical purposes, de- 
termination of significance is based on the role of the 
site in the development of the ethnic Russian cultural 
formation, the Russian state, and the Russian Orthodox 
Church, all of which preclude assigning significance to 
cultural or historical sites of importance to indigenous 
peoples. Third, the law on protection of places of 
worship is also almost uniformly interpreted to apply 
to Orthodox churches and excludes indigenous peoples' 

Environmentalists might seem even more natural 
allies than preservationists." Although the former So- 
viet Union adopted very strong nature conservation 
legislation, which won both internal support (rooted in 
a peasant society, Russia has a deep historical and 
cultural ideological investment in nature) and external 
praise, a series of dramatic and highly visible catastro- 



the philosophy undergirding 
what might be called "the com- 
pensation model of environmen- 
tal management" is one of mu- 
^^^^ tually agreed upon absolute sac- 
rifices. This differs considerably 
from a multiple-use, joint man- 
agement model based on 
mechanisms to elicit and man- 
age compromises. 

Relationships with the East- 
ern Khanty 

43/ Forested high places in swamps, called 'Islands, ' are often sacred sites 

phes of centralized planning— the heavy metals pollu- 
tion of the Lena and Yenesey Rivers, the desiccation of 
the Aral Sea, the pulp-mill pollution of Lake Baikal, the 
petroleum horrors of Samotlor, the radioactive waste 
in Novaya Zemlya— created an activist environmental- 
ist movement. Now Native organizations increasingly 
are broadcasting their claims to this constituency with 
the familiar slogans about the economic and cultural 
connections of Indigenous peoples to the land, of cul- 
tural formations specifically adapted to particular en- 
vironments, of "noble savage" philosophies based on 
sustainability and mutuality, rather than unilateral ex- 
ploitative extraction. Nevertheless, efforts to rally sup- 
port along these rhetorical lines have generally failed. 
The conservation philosophy, which one hears even 
from high-placed academicians and bureaucrats, is that 
the strictest preservation of exemplary instances of 
key ecosystems must be ensured. Nevertheless, this 
strategy appears something of a tradeoff, for it was 
only in 1996 that the Russia Duma adopted environ- 
mental management criteria for development projects 
that met Western standards, and several years later 
those criteria are still poorly enforced. What goes un- 
said in conversations about nature preservation is that 
that which is not protected will be destroyed. In short, 

During the course of this work, 
we established good relation- 
ships with several truly representative, effective, and 
competent Khanty local leaders, and consult regularly 
with them as they try to develop forms of representa- 
tive self-government within the legal structures autho- 
rized by the statutes of the Russian Federation. We 
have been closely monitoring the development of this 
Native leadership as it seeks to form national commu- 
nities and national corporations, and we have provided 
them with information about and contacts with Na- 
tive governments in the U.S. and Canada. To develop 
their interests and strengthen their competencies in 
1995, 1996, and again in 2001, we brought local 
Khanty leaders to the United States so that they could 
experience firsthand the structures of self-government 
within which Native Americans live and manage their 
lands and resources. In July 1996, after a site visit to 
the Yugan by a representative of COSKOMSEVER (State 
Committee on Northern Development of the Russian 
Federation) found local support for the concept, we 
spent many days traveling by boat on both the Bolshoi 
and Maiyi Yugan Rivers, stopping at each family settle- 
ment to explain the nature of the biosphere reserve 
concept and collect signatures to establish one in the 
Yugan region. Every adult in every family we approached 
signed eagerly. 



Relationship witin the Yugan Khanty 

As our focus on the Yugan Khanty developed, we took 
steps to establish that relationship more formally. To- 
day we have represented ourselves to the federal, area, 
and regional governmental officials, NGOs, and other 
concerned parties as independent scientists providing 
technical assistance to the Yugan Khanty community 
association, Yaoun Yakh, working under their formal 
invitation, with an agenda and itinerary registered by 
them with the Surgut Region administration and operat- 
ing under a jointly signed Letter of Agreement, specify- 
ing work, resources, and responsibilities of both parties. 

Although this level of formality belies the intimacy 
of personal relationships developed in ten years be- 
tween the researchers and the Yugan Khanty, it has 
proven useful in positioning us as "independent," though 
engaged, in the subsequent political interactions be- 
tween the Yaoun Yakh Community Association and 
the officials of the area and regional governments. The 
formalization of this relationship also had the effect of 
modeling for them how, in the absence of defined 
treaty rights, they might nevertheless find other mecha- 
nisms to assume control over access to community 
lands, population, traditional knowledge, and intellec- 
tual property. It has also bolstered the political pres- 
ence of Yaoun Yakh by demonstrating that they have 
continued access to international audiences and re- 
sources. We also facilitated for them a grant applica- 
tion that enabled them to obtain legal counsel from 
Ecojuris, a Russian environmental law NCO. 

Relations with Responsible Government Entities 

We have been careful to acknowledge all protocols, 
required by law or custom, and, within the limits of 
confidentiality, share results of our research regularly 
with government officials and NGOs, not only to quiet 
suspicions concerning the nature of our work, but to 
raise consciousness and to create conditions under 
which deniability is impossible. Toward this latter goal, 
we maintain a website and have occasionally used 
our access to the Internet to publicize protests from 

the Yugan Khanty community association, Yaoun Yakh, 
at the community's request. 

Project Implementation 

During this project, the co-authors traveled by out- 
board motorboat along the entire 1,800 kilometer 
(1,1 70 mile) combined length of the Bolshoi and Maiyi 
Yugan Rivers to complete an extensive house-to-house, 
family-to-family survey. We visited every hunting terri- 
tory, extended family settlement, and Native village or 
camp. Combining map-assisted structured interview- 
ing with the eight-page questionnaire, the survey has 
provided data in three major areas— traditional land 
use; material base and domestic economy; and health 
and social organization— so that we can begin to es- 
tablish a baseline against which the impact of devel- 
opment on the Bolshoi Yugan River basin and on the 
traditional way of life of the Yugan Khanty can be mea- 
sured. We had planned to survey the MaIyi Yugan River 
and part of the longer Bolshoi Yugan River in 1998, 
and the reminder of the Bolshoi Yugan in 1 999. 

As the following summary log of the project sug- 
gests, an important logistical constraint for us in this 
process was the great distance between Yugan Khanty 
settlements, often four or five hours by boat, and the 
limited amount of time available for fieldwork. These 
limitations meant that simply ensuring a thorough, rep- 
resentative, and reliable response to a simple sur^/ey 
instrument became a daunting task in itself. This pro- 
ject also raised two constraints peculiar to the former 
Soviet Union. First, all maps under 1:500,000 scale, a 
scale far too big to be useful for our work, are still 
considered state secrets; sponsorship of our work by 
the now-defunct State Committee of the North of the 
Russian Federation (GOSKOMSEVER) enabled us to pur- 
chase 1 :200,000 scale maps, allowing us to partially 
overcome this initial obstacle, though even this scale 
is too large. Ideally, 1:50,000 scale maps should be 
used. A second constraint is the limitation on the use 
of handheld GPS (Global Positioning Systems) in Rus- 
sia, but these, too, we were able to overcome. 



/ 998 Field Season 

July 8. We departed for the Yugan, from Chornaya 
Rechka, the oil industry base, in a helicopter that took 
us directly to the Kurlomkiny extended family settle- 
ment on the upper Bolshoi Yugan River, where we were 
able to confirm some nineteenth century land use prac- 
tices described by historical literature. 

July 9. We departed by motorboat to Larlumkiny, 
the highest settlement on Bolshoi Yugan River, about 
four hours of travel above Kurlomkiny. Larlumkiny is a 
complex settlement of six families, four of whom are 
related; its territory is huge. We administered our sur- 
vey instrument and mapped land use in this hunting 
territory. We continued on to visit one of the most 
important Khanty sacred places, two archaeological sites, 
and a Khanty cemetery near Lake Larlumkina. We re- 
turned to Kurlomkiny around 1 1 :30 in the evening. 

July 10. We did additional interviewing at 
Kurlomkiny. At 3 p.m. we flew out by helicopter to 

July 10-15: Ugut Village. We began by meeting 
with the local principals involved in the project. We 
reviewed the plans that we had made for the survey, 
engaging fully the head of the Yugan Khanty commu- 
nity, Vladimir Kogonchin, and two members of the in- 
terviewing team, Igor Kogonchin and Anna Baikalova 
from the Yugan Zapovednik. Baikalova made useful 
additions for ecological data to the survey instrument 
we were using. While arranging for our longer trip on 
Maiyi Yugan River, we made a short motorboat trip on 
the lower Bolshoi Yugan River near Ugut. This was only 
partially successful, because at a couple of the ex- 
tended family settlements at the village of Ryskiny, 
the residents were drunk, a result of recent cash distri- 
bution from the oil company; this is a situation that we 
have never met with on the middle and upper parts of 
either Bolshoi or MaIyi Yugan Rivers. Both Baikalova 
and Igor Kogonchin accompanied us on this trip to 
observe and practice the survey/interview/mapping 
techniques that we were using for data collecting. 

July 1 5-20: MaIyi Yugan River. We left Ugut by mo- 

torboat on the morning of 1 5 July and arrived around 
midnight at Surlomkiny extended family settlement, 
the first above Kinyamino. During this first part of 
the trip, we were able to administer the survey and 
map land use at one intermediate family settlement. 
On Julyl6, we administered the survey and mapped 
land use at Surlomkiny. We continued upriver on 1 7 
July. Between 1 7-19 July we stopped at every yurta 
(camp) on MaIyi Yugan, administering the survey and 
mapping land use, reaching the highest point, 
Asmanovy settlement, more than 500 river miles 
from Ugut. Some of the documentation was accom- 
plished on the way back. We arrived in Ugut at 2 a.m. 
on 20 July. After finishing up business in Ugut, and 
arranging with Kogonchin and Baikalova on a work 
plan for winter, we returned to Surgut on 22 July. 

Over the winter, Kogonchin and Baikalova admin- 
istered the survey at Kinyamino and Ryskiny, both of 
which could not be done in the summer. Wiget and 
Balalaeva began CIS data entry and mapping. 

/ 999 Field Season 

June 24. We traveled by helicopter to Ugut, staging 
point for our 1 999 field season. There we met with 
Vladimir Kogonchin, head of the Yugan Khanty com- 
munity and developed plans for our cooperative work. 
Our task was to administer the survey to all the Khanty 
families from Kolsomovy near the top of the river (we 
had done Kurlomkiny and Larlumkiny settlements the 
previous year). Because we had with us Konstantin 
Karacharov, an archaeologist of the Institute of History 
of the Russian Academy of Science, Urals Branch in 
Ekaterinburg, whom we had invited to Join us to con- 
duct the first archaeological survey of the Yugan basin, 
we still needed to return to Kurlomkiny and Larlumkiny. 
The plan was to send us all ahead by helicopter to 
Kurlomkiny; with local help, we would take care of the 
archaeological portion of survey work there in a couple 
of days. By the time we returned from Larlumkiny, 
Kogonchin would have arrived at Kurlomkiny by mo- 
torboat from Ugut, and we ourselves would start down 



river, continuing the survey. We expected a grueling 
trip from the uppermost settlement on the river back 
to Ugut, more than 500 miles by outboard motorboat. 

June 26. We arrived at Kurlomkiny. From the very 
beginning things went well. The archaeological survey 
of the upper Bolshoi Yugan River was very productive, 
and we developed an excellent and efficient working 
relationship with Karacharov. We could anticipate that 
the data he was providing would assist us immensely 
in strengthening arguments for preservation of the Yugan 
for its historical and cultural value. 

June 29-July 6. We started down river. The Bolshoi 
Yugan River differs from Maiyi Yugan River in that there 
are many more Khanty, they live farther apart, and there 
are several Native villages, in which some Khanty fami- 
lies live permanently though they travel to fishing ar- 
eas and avail themselves of "common" (unassigned) 
hunting grounds. We visited, interviewed and did map 
work with more than twenty families living on fifteen 
different extended family settlements, as well as inter- 
viewing and doing map work with an additional four- 
teen families living in the villages of Tailakhova, Taurova, 
and Kayukova. In the larger villages, we worked as 
two teams, with the co-authors forming one team and 
Karacharov and Kogonchin the other. Map work and 
interviews with other residents of Kayukova and 
Ryskiny had been concluded in 1998, the first season 
of fieldwork. Along the entire length of the river, while 
the authors were doing map work and interviews, 
Karacharov also did interviews, site mapping, and test- 
ing, for the preliminary archaeological survey. In the 
end, he had identified by inspection or report thirty- 
one sites, including several multilevel complexes of 
enormous importance, as well as a complex of prehis- 
toric trails and roads. We returned to Ugut very early 
on the morning of 6 July 1 999. 

We spent the next several days in Ugut. Additional 
interviews and map work were done with Khanty fami- 
lies we had missed at their extended family settlements 
but who were in Ugut to purchase supplies. We also 
developed with Vladimir Kogonchin a revised draft of 

the charter for the proposed co-managed Yugan Pro- 
tected Territory; we were especially concerned about 
two elements, a zonation scheme that would provide 
for designations of different kinds of uses and forms of 
protection, and a usable co-management structure. We 
met with Anna Baikalova and Konstantin Karacharov, 
not only to compare preliminary findings, but also to 
describe the kinds of reports we would need from the 
MaIyi Yugan. Finally, we defined work that remained to 
be done, especially the few families that we had missed 
on either river. The interviews and maps were sent to 
us in the U.S. in November 1999. 

Gaining protected area status for the Yugan re- 
quires successfully passing through two commissions 
(regional and okrug). As a result of the authors' pre- 
vious work as well as the assistance of the Moscow- 
based legal NCO Ecojuris, the administrations of 
Surgut Region and Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug 
are now formally taking up the proposal to estab- 
lish a legally protected area on the traditional home- 
land of the Yugan Khanty. This project thus has en- 
tered the critical phase. 

In August 1 999, we accompanied Vladimir Kogon- 
chin, the head of the Yugan Khanty community, to 
Khanty-Mansiysk, the capital of the okrug, where we 
met with a number of area officials whose responses 
to the project varied. Finally, the group met for more 
than a half-hour with Governor Alexandr Filipenko, who 
appeared to be generally supportive of the project 
and invited us to submit materials directly to his 
office. He had been surprised at the volume and na- 
ture of communications he had received from around 
the world on his office fax machine in support of 
preserving the Yugan; these resulted from our dis- 
semination of information about the Khanty and the 
current state of the project on our internet website 
(http://www/ In 
mid-November 1999, we had sent to him an initial 
packetof materials. While in Khanty-Mansiysk, Balalaeva, 
Wiget, and Kogonchin briefed Tatiana Gogoleva, the 
president of Spasenie Yugry {Save the Yugra), the major 



Khanty cultural association, on the project. 

At the regional level, the Surgut regional commis- 
sion, the formation of which was resisted for so long, 
was finally called into meeting at the end of 1998. It 
met only once and briefly, to approve the general 
idea of establishing some kind of protected terri- 
tory on the Yugan River. From beginning to end, how- 
ever, this regional commission process has been heavily 
biased in favor of administration interests and the his- 
tory of unilateral administrative decision-making. Thus, 
for the Khanty community to realize their social and 
political aims, it is necessary that they compel a dia- 
logue with the administration over the organization, 
and management of the OTTP. A package of docu- 
ments that was provided to the okrug officials in mid- 
November was also sent to the Surgut administration. 

The data gathered on these two field trips were 
combined with ethnographic data gathered previously 
at selected extended family settlements and with 
ethnohistoric data compiled from a survey of nineteenth 

and early twentieth century literature. Confirmation of 
survey results should come from field observations; 
but clearly, the same constraints that were factors in 
administering the survey made direct observation of 
the relevant behaviors in every household impossible. 
A second concern, then, was to identify a few repre- 
sentative households with whom we could establish 
a long-term relationship that permitted direct obser- 
vation under the relevant conditions. In the Cultural 
Resources Survey and Assessment now underway, we 
have identified specific extended family settlements 
on the Bolshoi and Maiyi Yugan Rivers, which our own 
previous fieldwork or the survey indicated had one or 
more family members who were known to the com- 
munity as cultural specialists or who were likely to 
have a substantial body of knowledge concerning 
Khanty beliefs and practices associated with the land- 
scape. Especially sought after were oral traditions, es- 
pecially toponymic and local legends, etiological sto- 
ries, memorates, and oral historical narratives, from hunt- 

44/ At Lake Larlumkina near the top of the Bolshoi Yugan River is a complex cultural heritage site, consisting of an 
active cemetery, two nearby archaeological sites, and this sacred place with labases which serves as homes for 
three spirits and their helpers. 


ing and traveling to homebuilding, all of which might 
dramatize Khanty values, beliefs, and practices associ- 
ated with the landscape. 

2000 Field Seasons 

The co-authors went to the field twice in 2000, each 
time identifying a specific extended family settle- 
ment for confirming data gathered on the survey 
and better understanding seasonal uses of the land. 
In July 2000, the team traveled to the Kuplandeyevy 
settlement on the middle part of Bolshoi Yugan River, 
to interview two brothers, both sons of a shaman, 
and the elder, Nikolai Petrovich, also one of only 
two remaining singers of Bear Festival songs. We 
subsequently learned that two months after we had 
left Nikolai Petrovich, he passed away. In Decem- 
ber, we traveled again to Kurlomkiny, this time to 
observe winter hunting practices, as well as to dis- 
cuss the findings of our survey. Kurlomkin is the only 
person on Bolshoi Yugan River beside Kupland-eyev 
who knows Bear Festival songs. 


All ethnographic findings concerning Khanty values, 
beliefs, and practices associated with the landscape 
disclosed so far by the Khanty Cultural Conservation 
Program have implications for the development of co- 
management policies for the planned protected area 
in the Bolshoi Yugan River basin. 

Ethnographic Findings 

The project has produced a number of findings signifi- 
cant for understanding the West Siberian boreal forest 
as a Khanty "cognized" landscape. It confirmed our 
governing hypothesis: Khanty conceive of a complex, 
but direct and roughly isomorphic connection between 
the multiple layers of their religious pantheon and the 
different levels of land use. The relationships are: 

(a) The High Gods : Sky, Earth Surface, Underworld 

(b) Their Children : Major Tributary Rivers 

(c) Their Children's Children : Family Hunting 

Using toponymic and ethnographic data from our own 
work and the work of others, we developed a typol- 
ogy of sacred places that distinguishes between un- 
modified geophysical features— such as lakes, whirl- 
pools, sand bars, high places, and sacred groves— and 
those geophysical features that have been modified 
by the addition of constructions. Such sites are "sa- 
cred" because a mythological event is associated with 

We can assert that the Yugan Khanty recognize that 
some sites that they might not classif/ as "sacred" are 
nevertheless seen by them as "culturally significant." 
This is especially true of some archaeological sites to 
which oral historical legends are attached. 

Fieldwork interviews, archaeological survey, and a 
review of the ethnohistoric literature all confirm that 
wide forest trails, marked on contemporary maps as 
"reindeer roads," are often of great age and of enor- 
mous significance to the cognitive map by which Yugan 
Khanty establish their social and historical connections 
to Khanty communities on other river systems. 

Khanty thoroughly understand ecosystems as fish 
and game habitats, as well as the concepts of microen- 
vironments and population cycles, and differentially 
value each of the four major ecosystem types found in 
the Middle Ob River basin relative to the contribution 
of their resources to the traditional economy. 

While Khanty understand their family hunting terri- 
tories as bounded entities, that single boundary does 
not adequately express their appropriation of landscape. 
Our earlier ethnographic work confirmed that certain 
traditional practices represented in nineteenth century 
ethnohistoric literature still pertain: Khanty landhold- 
ers partition their territory into fractions that they allo- 
cate to other family members; they transfer use rights 
to resources even while retaining claims to the land; 
and they still permit "hot pursuit" onto their territories 
of animals chased from neighboring lands. As we found 
out in our December 2000 trip to the Kurlomkiny settle- 



ment, and it is a datum never reported before, Khanty 
hunters perceive different levels of exclusivity in "hold- 
ing" their lands: areas for trapping are the exclusive 
domain of the landholder, known in these circumstances 
by the Russian-Khanty epithet, pyt'//c/or"[trap]line man," 
where trespass is severely approbated, while other 
areas are less exclusively claimed, and hunting-fishing 
trespass less approbated. 

Yugan Khanty families often hunt beyond their 
family lands, a historical situation aggravated by the 
creation of the Yugan Zapovednik. This has meant 
that Khanty conceptualizations do not coincide with 

( either governmental administrative boundaries or 

with natural definitions, such as tributary drainage 

i systems. 

Policy Implications of Findings 

In ethnographic landscape studies, all findings of eth- 
nographic significance will have direct implications for 
the management of behaviors, lands, and resources, 
which will often emerge as problem areas highlight- 
ing different conceptions of landscape. For example, 
the development of national or international regimes 
of legal protection requires generalized categories of 
sites that can accommodate the dynamic character of 
tradition. Nevertheless, generalized categories have the 
potential for missing the site-specific or culture-spe- 
cific features of a place from which its sacred character 
derives. One solution might be to generate simple lists 
or registers of identified sacred places, but such lists 
require some generalized principles to justify the in- 
clusion of places in the register. They also lack the 
ability to guide planners in terms of what to consider in 
the development process and tend to be generated 
by the development projects that disclose the exist- 
ence of sacred places at the last minute. This tension 
between generalized (emic) typologies and culture-spe- 
cific (etic) typologies is especially felt in developing 
protection regimes for natural sacred places of indig- 
enous peoples. Our concerns focus on three main ar- 
eas of confusion. 


Problems of Form 

It is typical to identify natural sacred sites according 
to particular elements of landscape. For the Khanty, 
these would include: lakes, rivers, swamps, uris, whirl- 
pools, rapids, turns, and confluences of rivers, hills, 
ravines, islands, promontories, sacred groves, indi- 
vidual sacred trees, and stones. Two difficulties 
emerge with such a simple strategy: the problems 
of Complexity and Scale. 

Complexity. Such a simple model of identification 
does not consider that natural sacred places may often 
be composed of several natural elements. On the Yugan, 
Pim, and Kazym Rivers, for example, the majority of 
sacred swamps include different kinds of high places: 
hillocks (Russian: bugor), ridges (Russian: gryady), "is- 
lands" (Russian: ostrov), or isolated trees, although there 
are several examples that indicate that simply swamps 
themselves can have special status. Sometimes differ- 
ent toponyms point to the same place. Local people 
call Iming Soyem (sacred creek)— located in the Trom- 
Agan River basin near Yubileinoe village (Russian: 
Svyatoy Ovrag, Sacred Ravine). The problem is even 
further complicated when one considers that such natu- 
ral sacred elements may also include cultural elements, 
such as constructions to house the spirits. The region 
of Lake Larlumkina on the Yugan River is considered 
in its combination of several natural and cultural ele- 
ments: the lake itself and high places near the lake 
shore, as well as a three shrines, a cemetery, and two 
archaeological sites. One very knowledgeable Khanty 
person suggested that the entire basin of the Pim River 
is considered by many Khanty to be sacred. 

Scale. The complexity of such forms raises the ques- 
tion of what exactly should be protected in a site- 
based regime of legal protection. This is a matter of 
both area and access. Area questions have to do with 
establishing boundaries of sites to be protected; in 
very large areas, like Larlumkina, this may involve de- 
veloping zonation strategies. Access questions are 
raised by the scale of a site as well as its function: 
Does access require a special route to the site that 

1 49 

should be incorporated into a protection plan? Do the 
functions need to be protected from observers? 

Problems of Function 

We found it very difficult to strictly categorize sites 
according to their presumed function. When a place is 
referred to as sacred, what attributes of it are actually 
being pointed out. Our experience with the Siberian 
Khanty, as well as reports from several Native Ameri- 
can groups (Kelley and Francis 1 994), suggests that a 
place is typically referred to as sacred because of its 
association with religious belief (myth) and/or cultic 
practice. Yet, even these terms acquire a certain flex- 
ibility as tradition begins to shape itself out of the 
seeds of an origin long since lost to cultural memory. 

Cultic Functions. Because of the high visibility of 
and anthropology's bias toward cultic activity, sites as- 
sociated with offerings, sacrifices, or other forms of cultic 
behavior are often foregrounded in typological sys- 
tems, in a manner parallel to the foregrounding of sites 
marked by constructions, as opposed to sacred natu- 
ral features. This poses several problems, not the least 
of which is the fact that the sacredness of cultic sites 
may be reconfigured. Cultic practices may persist even 
after any memory of the mythic event or association 
that focused attention on the place has been lost. We 
have contemporary data that the religious power that 
once energized recently destroyed sacred places can 
be communicated to newly revealed sacred places, 
or, simply, new sacred places, hitherto unknown, may 
be revealed to the community through dreaming or 
other culturally sanctioned channels. These places have 
no mythic associations. 

Mnemonic-Iconic Function. As American anthropolo- 
gist Keith Basso (1 996) has demonstrated, the associa- 
tion of place with myth and legend often gives sites a 
substantive mnemonic function as a culture's beliefs, 
values, and normative practices are mapped onto a 
landscape filled with stories. For example, on Bolshoi 
Yugan River, near Kykalevy settlement, a sacred whirl- 
pool is marked by the following legend: 

1 50 

When people came and began to travel 
along the Yugan, and the [god's] wife was 
probably very ill-natured. She began to 
confuse people to delay them. Later, the 
grassy bank there, when it dried entirely 
[after the water lowered later in summer] 
became like stone. Her husband became 
angry and kicked her. Below this place 
appeared a deep, deep whirlpool. 'If you 
don't want to look at people, then you 
should live in a deep whirlpool,' [so the 
husband addressed the wife]. 

It is important to understand that even if no cultic 
practice emerges from this association, the associa- 
tion is functional in the strictest sense. Nevertheless, 
there is as much flexibility with this mnemonic-iconic 
function as with the cultic function. Religious belief 
can be enlarged from a mythic association to include 
associations with legend. An archaeological site, Vosh 
Vort Pay, on the upper Maiyi Yugan River is considered 
sacred because of its legendary, quasi-mythic associa- 
tions: To this place sand had been brought to create an 
island in the middle of the swamp on which a fortress 
had been built of large, palisaded logs. Other logs were 
dragged up the slope and stacked for defense; when 
the enemy attacked, the logs were released to roll down 
on them. According to legend, people known as Aryx 
Yakh, "The People Sung About" in Khanty epic songs, 
lived there: "The people were about three meters 
tall. What was strange about them was that they 
had no navels. These warrior giants' names were 
Nyomyl and Toruk." Interestingly, other texts we re- 
corded from different sources say that the gods had 
no navels. 

While many countries have a regime of legal pro- 
tection for cultic places categorized as places of reli- 
gious worship, as well as a regime of legal protection 
for places with a mnemonic-iconic function catego- 
rized as places of cultural significance, it is unclear 
whether the legal systems of most countries compre- 
hend the ambiguity in and linkage between these cat- 
egories from an indigenous perspective. The result is a 
scattershot pattern of protection that focuses on some 
sites highly marked by Western standards, while over- 
looking the broad and complex network of function- 


45/ Khanty caretaker, Yefim Kolsomovatthe labas commemorating where the high god Torum stepped down onto 
the earth. The site is featured in the model documentation presented in Table I . 

ality that links these more visible sites with the other, 
less-visible ones. 

Problems of Participation. 

The complex relationship between social structure 
and indigenous religious belief and practice is also a 
cause for confusion. We have identified more than 1 50 
sacred sites in the Middle Ob River basin; but the 
fractions of the population who participate, through 
knowledge, belief or practice, in the traditions asso- 
ciated with these sites (Fig. 45) vary considerably and 
pose problems for developing both typologies and re- 
gimes of legal protection. 

Khanty social organization is based on extended 
families or lineages, with related lineages grouped 
into clans (Khanty cir). While the present settlement 
pattern has been influenced by migration and forced 
relocation in the Middle Ob region, evidence from our 
own fieldwork and the ethnographic record indicates 

that different Khanty clans even today claim traditional 
use rights to different river systems tributary to the Ob 
River, in part because they believe their lineage was 
founded by divine ancestors who were also respon- 
sible for the creation of the river systems on which the 
majority of the clan lives (Pupi [bear] cir. Bolshoi Yugan 
River; makh [beaver] cir. Maiyi Yugan River). Most Khanty 
extended families live on traditional family hunting ter- 
ritories, protected by family gods who are considered 
offspring of the lineage's founding deities. These lin- 
eage deities are the seven sons of the high god, each 
a patron of a major tributary of the Ob River. Roughly 
speaking, the principal deities are responsible for cos- 
mological-level events, their first-generation offspring 
for the watersheds of the major tributaries, and the 
second-generation offspring for individual family lands 
along each watershed. Traditional Khanty thus believe 
that sacred power has been historically invested in 
both the landscape and the lineage. 



This, however, creates an apparent and problem- 
atic hierarchy of interest. Khanty do distinguish be- 
tween communal (Russian: obshchie) sacred sites, clan 
sacred sites, and family sacred sites. Nevertheless, be- 
cause each category is embedded in the one above it, 
all, even a particular extended family's sacred place, is 
said to have a bearing on the success and prosperity 
of the Khanty community as a whole. Consequently, it 
would be incorrect to view community-wide sites as 
somehow more significant than the sacred places of 
individual, extended families. 

Recommendations and Conclusions 

The definition of familiar cultural resources, such as sa- 
cred sites, cemeteries, archaeological sites, and his- 
torical monuments, as very narrowly circumscribed lo- 
cations is inevitably flawed, especially when dealing 
with the cultural resources of indigenous peoples. In 
our experience, among indigenous peoples: 

—"Site" implies a boundedness or localization of 
phenomenon that may not obtain, 

—"Sacred" is a category of inquiry that is less use- 
ful than "cultural significance" 

—"Cultural significance" is very locally determined 
and cannot be presumed without intensive field- 

—"Cultural significance" is less likely to be signaled 
by a preservable characteristic of objects or places 
than by a set of proscribed human behaviors 

Based on our experience, we believe that ethnographic 
landscape projects should: 

—Identify the ways in which local uses of key terms 
of environmental, preservationist, and other social 
science discourses differ from the way the terms 
are used by advocacy and interest groups 

—Link "site" and "behavior" through "discourse" by 
focusing principally on documentation of personal 
narratives, oral history, and folklore 

—Integrate "sites" into networks based on ethno- 
graphically determined patterns of human behav- 
ior or conceptualization, not on typologies of form 

—Combine the documentation of conventionally 
1 52 

recognized forms of culturally significant sites with 
the documentation of social and economic uses 
of land 

—Understand ethnographic landscape as a "lay- 
ered" not just a "partitioned" complexity 

The effort to create a co-managed, protected territory 
for the Yugan Khanty is ongoing. Our work on the Cul- 
tural Resources Survey Project concludes next year; 
the charter for the Yaoun Yakh Community Association 
is being redrawn to conform to new laws on commu- 
nity associations. We continue to pursue other legal, 
social, and scientific approaches to preserving the lands 
of the Yugan Khanty, such as nominating archeologi- 
cal sites, singly and in networks, for protected status. 
The effort to save the land and culture of the Yugan 
Khanty represents an initiative of great importance for 
Russia. For indigenous people in a country that has no 
tradition of recognizing indigenous peoples' sover- 
eignty, nor as yet has any laws recognizing the unique 
status of indigenous people or providing for private, 
individual or communal land ownership, the proposed 
protected territory provides a legal basis for local self- 
government and control of land use in their traditional 
territory. For conservationists, it represents the first op- 
portunity to effectively monitor with the close coop- 
eration of the local population the human impact on a 
complex ecosystem and manage with them its sus- 
tainable development. Grounding cultural conservation 
programs among indigenous peoples in policies based 
on a dynamic model of human ecology, rather than on 
a static and more easily contested model of historical 
preservation, has several advantages. It means at once 
a more comprehensive program, based on the con- 
cept of "landscape," rather than "site," and a more ef- 
fective program, since it manages behaviors ('uses') 
rather than structures or things. Moreover, under this 
banner, conservationists can become allies, instead of 
antagonists of Native interests. 

The successful establishment of a protected area 
for the Yugan Khanty now depends principally on ex- 
traordinarily powerful petroleum magnates and on the 


will of government authorities, who are also respon- 
sible for the sale of oil licenses. Though the financial 
costs of oil production in the Yugan basin are extraor- 
dinarily high, to say nothing of the tragic and irrevers- 
ible human cost to the Khanty, pressure from oil com- 
panies continues, and tracts of the Yugan River basin, 
which the Khanty use to feed their families, are still 
being sold. Unlike the situation in the West, where lo- 
cal constituencies might find government instruments 
to exert political pressure on their own, and where 
the greatest threat to cultural landscapes often comes 
from trespassers, poachers, and grave robbers, silence 
is not the best conservator of cultural value. In the 
political and economic environment of Siberia, the sci- 
entific gathering and public dissemination of ethno- 
graphic information is essential. First, publication 
makes deniability impossible for policymakers. Sec- 
ond, it demonstrates the complexity and indispens- 
ability of the cultural landscape in ways that expose 
the weak, exploitative nature of stand-alone cultural 
programs, such as festivals and museums, sponsored 
by Russian officialdom. Third, dissemination of infor- 
mation on cultural landscapes can frame an alternative 
discourse to those of natural resource exploitation and 
contested rights that may powerfully serve the inter- 
ests of cultural conservation. 

For Russia— a country with many nature reserves 
but a poor record of protecting the environment and 
sustaining the internationally acknowledged rights 
of indigenous peoples— the proposed Yugan Khanty 
Protected Territory thus represents a unique 


1. The official listing of these peoples is pro- 
vided in "O yedinom perechene korennykh mal- 
ochislennykh narodov Rossiiskoi Federatsii" (On the 
unified list of indigenous minority peoples of the 
Russian Federation), 24 March 2000. For overviews 
of Khanty culture, see Levin and Potapov 1956; 
Kuiemzin 1984; Kulemzin and Lukina 1992; Balzer 
1994; and Golovnev 1995. Balzer 1999 is a very 


valuable ethnohistorical work. Earlier works include 
Karjalainen 1995 [1922]; Chernetsov 1987 [1927]; 
and Dunin-Corkavitch 1995 [1904]. 

2. The authors thank The John D. and Catherine 
T. MacArthur Foundation for their support of field- 
work among the Western Siberia Khanty in the men- 
tioned projects. Further information about the projects 
can be found on the World Wide Web at: http://www/ 

3. Data based on authors' fieldwork at the 
Kaimysovy extended family settlement. Upper Maiyi 
Yugan River, Surgut Region, Khanty-Mansi Autono- 
mous Okrug, June 1996. 

4. Alliances between environmental interests 
and indigenous interests are widely proclaimed in 
the international arena, but they have a mixed record 
of success, if measured by amicable cooperation in 
the pursuit of mutual interests (see Stevens 1 997). 

Balalaeva, Olga 

1999 Sviashchennye mesta khantov Srednei I 
Nizhnei Obi (Khanty sacred places of the middle and 
lower Ob River). In: Ocherki istohi traditsionnogo 
zemlepol'zovaniia Khantov (Matehaly k Atlasu), pp. 
1 39-56. Ekaterinburg: Tezis. 

Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam 

1 994 Khanty. In: Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Paul 
Friedrich, ed., pp.89-92. Boston: C. K. Hall. 

1999 The Tenacity of Ethnicity: A Siberian Saga in Glo- 
bal Perspective. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 

Basso, Keith 

1996 Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language 
among the Western Apache. Albuquerque: University 
of New Mexico Press. 

Brody, Hugh 

1981 Maps and Dreams. Vancouver: Douglas and 

Chernetsov, Valerii N. 

1987 Istochniki po etnografii Zapadnoi Sibiria (Sources 
in West Siberian Ethnography). Tomsk: Tomsk Uni- 
versity Press. 

Domke, Stephan, and Michael Succow 

1 998 Cultural Landscapes and Nature Conserva- 
tion in Northern Eurasia. Bonn: Naturschutzbund 

Dunin-Corkavich, A.A. 

1995 Tobolskii Sever: Obshihii obzor' strany, eio 
estestvennykh bogatstv i promyshlennoi deiatel'nosti 
naseleniia (The Tobolsk North: a general survey of 
the country, it natural wealth, and industrial activity 
of the population). (Reprint of 1 904 edition) Mos- 

1 53 

cow: Libereya. 
Golovnev, Andrei V. 

1995 Covohashchie Kul'Wry: Traditsii Samodiitsev i 
L/^rai/ (Talking Cultures: Traditions of Samoyeds and 
Ugrians). Ekaterinburg: Russian Academy of Science, 
Urals Branch. 

Karjalainen, K.F. 

1 995 Religiia Yugorskikh Narodov (Religion of 
the Ugrian people), trans. N. V. Lukina. 2 vols. 
Tomsk: Tomsk University Press, [reprints the first 
two volumes of 1 921 -27, Der Religion der Jugra- 
Volker. 3 vols. Folklore Fellows Communications 
41, 44, 63. Helsinki-Porvoo: Suomalainen 

Kelley, Klara, and Harris Francis 

1 994 Navajo Sacred Places. Bloomington: Indiana 
University Press. 

Kulemzin, Vladislav M. 

1984 Chelovek i phroda v verovaniiakh KhantoviMan 
and Nature in Khanty Beliefs). Tomsk: Tomsk Univer- 
sity Press. 

Kulemzin, Vladislav M., and Nadezhda V. Lukina 

1992 Znakomtes': Khanty (Meet. Khanty). Novo- 
sibirsk: Nauka. 

Levin, Maksim C, and Leonid P. Potapov, eds. 

1 964 The Peoples of Siberia. Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press. 

Ocherki Istorii 

1 999 Ocherki istorii traditsionnogo zemlepol'zovaniia 
Khantov (Materialy k Atlasu) (Essays on Khanty tradi- 
tional land use and history (materials for an atlas). 
Ekaterinburg: Tezis. 

Pika, Alexander, ed. 

1 999 Neotraditionalism in the Russian North: Indig- 
enous Peoples and the Legacy of Perestroika. Cir- 
cumpolar Research Series 6. Edmonton and Seattle: 
Canadian Circumpolar Institute and University of 
Washington Press. 
Rushforth, Scott, and James S. Chisholm 
1 991 Cultural Persistence: Continuity in Meaning and 
Moral Responsibility among the Bearlake Athapaskans. 

Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 
Schmidt, Eva 

1 987 Khanty and Mansi Religion. In: The Encyclope- 
dia of Religion, Mircea Eliade, ed., v. 8, pp. 280-88. 
New York: Macmillan. 

1989 Bear Cult and Mythology of Northern Ob' 
Yugrians. In: Uralic Mythology and Folklore, Mihaly 
Hoppal and Juha Pentakainen, eds., pp. 187-231. 
Budapest: Ethnographic Institute, Hungarian Academy 
of Sciences. 

Stevens, Stan, ed. 

1997 Conservation Through Cultural Survival: Indig- 
enous Peoples and Protected Areas. Washington, 
D.C.: Island Press. 

Wiget, Andrew 

1 999a Ekonomika i traditsionnoye zemlepol'zovanie 
vostochnykh khantov (Economy and traditional land 
use of the Eastern Khanty). In: Ocherki istorii 
traditsionnogo zemlepol'zovaniia Khantov (Materialy 
k Atlasu), pp. 1 57-200. Ekaterinburg: Tezis. 

1 999b Chiornyi Sneg: neft' i vostochnye khanty 
(Black snow: oil and the Eastern Khanty). In 
Ocherki istorii traditsionnogo zemlepol'zovaniia 
Khantov (Materialy k Atlasu). pp. 201-14. 
Ekaterinburg: Tezis. 

Wiget, Andrew, and Olga Balalaeva 

1996 Black Snow: Oil and the Khanty of Western 
Siberia. Cultural Survival Quarterly 20(4): 1 7-9. 

1998a Siberian Perspectives on Protected Use Areas 
as a Strategy for Conserving Traditional Indigenous 
Cultures in the Context of Economic Development. 
In: Development in the Arctic: Proceedings of the 7th 
Nordic Arctic Research Forum Symposium, Tom 
Creiffenberg, ed., pp. 88-100. Copenhagen: Danish 
Polar Center. 

1 998b The Siberian Khanty 'Sacred Trust' Project: Emic 
and Etic Strategies for Creating Fieldwork-Based 
Typologies of Sacred Places. In Natural Sacred Sites: 
Cultural Diversity and Biological Diversity. Proceedings 
of the First International UNESCO Seminar. Paris: 


[Njenets ^acred ^ites 

as Ethnographic Landscape 


In the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area {Okmg) in North- 
west Siberia— as in many other regions of arctic Rus- 
sia—the problem of preserving cultural sites and monu- 
ments related to local Native people is quite acute 
[see Fedorova, this volume]. Environments are chang- 
ing and many habitats are being broken up under rapid 
industrial development, mainly for oil and gas, of the 
indigenous population's lands. The traditional system 
of wildlife management, subsistence usage, and land 
preservation is deteriorating. In the near future, devel- 
opment will begin in the northernmost section of the 
West Siberian tundra and may even include the High 
Arctic coastland and offshore grounds, where proven 
oil and gas deposits exist. In conditions of such rapid 
industrial development, the preservation, registration, 
and governmental protection of ritual sites as monu- 
ments of the ethno-cultural heritage of indigenous 
people are acquiring greater urgency. 

In 1 990, a new research unit, the Laboratory of Eth- 
nography and Ethnolinguistics, an offshoot of the InstiWt 
Problem Osvoeniia Severn (IPOS; Institute of Problems of 
Development in the North), was established in the city 
of Salekhard, the regional center of the Yamal-Nenets 
Area. Since 1998, it has been transformed into the 
"Center for Humanitarian Research on Indigenous Mi- 
nority Peoples of the North of Yamal-Nenets Au- 
tonomous Area" (CHR). Representatives of the region's 
indigenous peoples— the Nenets, Khanty, and Selkup— 
became staff researchers and scientific collaborators. 
One crucial field of CHR activities became the map- 
ping of sacred sites (or "ritual places") of the area's 

indigenous people, which was named a key heritage 
goal by the local Association of Indigenous Minority 
People of the region, Yamal—Potomkam! (Yamal: For 
Our Descendants!). In 1994, two CHR staff research- 
ers—Leonid Lar and I— began surveys under this pro- 
gram. Lar made a draft map of the Yamal District 
sacred sites and prepared it for publication (Lar 1 995). 
He later used it for his Ph.D. dissertation, 'The Tradi- 
tional Religious Worldview of the Nenets," which he 
defended in 2000 (Lar 1 999). 

As a Native researcher and a Nenets woman born 
into a nomadic reindeer herding family on the Cydan 
Peninsula, I was responsible for mapping Nenets sa- 
cred sites in my native region, the Cydan Peninsula 
(Fig. 46), which is territorially a part of the Taz District 
of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. 

Both Lar and I were sharply aware of the scientific 
importance of this work, and the impacts of industrial 
development spoke to its practical urgency and value. 
The immediate task was to identify and document the 
remaining monuments of spiritual culture forthe Nenets 
people— because the destruction of Nenets sacred sites 
in areas that had undergone oil and gas development, 
road construction, and other industrial activities was 
taking place before our eyes. We did not know how to 
create a system for protecting sacred sites, but we felt 
that a special administrative ruling or legislative act 
was essential to prevent their damage and destruction. 

Extensive oil and gas exploration has taken place 
on the Cydan tundra since the 1 970s, and several known 
Nenets ritual places and sacred sites have already been 

1 55 

destroyed during the early geophysical and explor- 
atory surveys. The indigenous tundra residents, the 
Nenets herders and fishermen, have been powerless 
against these intruders. The geologists were drilling 
holes in our land,-^ and were disturbing the peace of 
the Lower World's inhabitants and the spirits of sacred 
places. Where possible, Nenets people have restored 
the damaged sites and conducted ritual "cleaning" 
of the area. But they did not know how to protect 
their sacred places. 

In December 1 994, 1 first reported on this project at 
the Third World Archaeological Congress in New Delhi 
in a paper titled "Mapping Nenets Sacred Sites of Gydan 
Peninsula" (Khan/uchi and Lipatova 1 998). In 1 999, I 
defended a Ph.D. dissertation titled Traditions and In- 
novations in the Nenets Ethnic Culture, later published as 
a book (Kharyuchi 1999a, 2001). Its second chapter, 
"The Sacred Sphere of the Traditional Nenets Society," 
was dedicated to Nenets beliefs and rites related to or 
performed at sacred sites, and to their modern transfor- 
mation. The map I made of Nenets sacred places on 
the Gydan Peninsula (at the scale 1 :2, 000,000) was at- 
tached as an appendix to my dissertation (Kharyuchi 
1 999b; 2001 ;21 6a). Some seventy traditional sacred sites 
of the Gydan Nenets that still exist and are revered 
today are designated on the map (Kharyuchi 2001 :216- 
7). For each sacred site, the following information was 
recorded: traditional site name and its interpretation; 
origin of the site; events and legends (stories) related 
to the site; and its modern preservation status (condi- 
tion). Many Nenets traditional sacred sites in the study 
areawere first documented more than seventy-five years 
ago by V. Toboliakov, a participant of the Gydan Expe- 
dition of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1 926- 
1 927 (Toboliakov 1 930). This made it possible to com- 
pare the state of preservation, functionality, and 
changes of various sacred sites over almost eighty 
years, as well as the preservation of the rites and 
oral traditions related to them. This chapter dis- 
cusses my work in surveying and documenting 
Nenets sacred sites and some of the results. 

Sacred Places: a Personal View and Fea- 
tures of the Ethnographer's Work 

Beginning my work, I experienced a deep internal emo- 
tional conflict. I, a Nenets woman, born and brought 
up in a traditional family of reindeer herders, knew well 
the complexity of the task and the challenges I faced. 
As a Nenets woman, it was difficult for me to collect 
information about sacred sites, because of the tradi- 
tional gender roles prescribed from childhood and the 
many taboos still practiced in the nomadic Nenets so- 
ciety, especially in the sacred sphere. Sacred rituals are 
still almost exclusively the men's area of knowledge 
and activities. Women are rarely if ever included and as 
low-level participants at minor rituals only. All informa- 
tion pertaining the origins, clan and family ownership, 
and the rites to be performed at sacred places is still 
strictly controlled by men. Therefore, women, even 
senior ones, are often quite ignorant about sacred sites 
and are presumed to be such under traditional system 
of beliefs. 

The initial stage of my survey was especially ardu- 
ous. During my first field trips, or while on short holi- 
day visits to tundra camps with my relatives— who are 
practicing reindeer herders~l collected some data, in 
no way advertising my main interest. I feared the con- 
demnation of the elders among my family and clan 
people; because of that, I felt that I should address 
only youths. The young people assisted me with plea- 
sure. As a Nenets woman, I could not ask questions 
of the elderly men, nor demonstrate any interest in 
sacred places, much less visit and describe them (ex- 
cept for special female sites). I also faced many special 
obstacles in approaching the sites, because I had not 
achieved that advanced age when a [post-menopausal] 
woman again becomes sacredly pure, and many taboos, 
including those on a woman visiting ritual sites, no 
longer apply to her. 

It started to change once an elderly shaman from 
my clan told me that I should "hold the drum in my 
hands" [that is, could and should practice shaman ritu- 


als myself]. I was surprised by his words, more so be- 
cause this was our first meeting and I was not person- 
ally acquainted with him, although he knew about 
me. I therefore took his words merely as a joke, as I 
had no extrasensory or other special abilities what- 
soever. Most of my adult life had been spent in an 
urban environment and in another culture. I had gradu- 
ated from a high school and a teacher's college under 
the Soviet system of government education and, as an 
adult, continued to live in the city and communicated 
less with my people on the tundra. 

Probably, in a traditional society, I would have had 
an unusual destiny. After this memorable meeting with 
the shaman, it somehow became psychologically easier 

for me to engage in documenting Nenets sacred sites. 
It seemed as if I had received a "blessing" and could 
now approach even elderly men and other senior per- 
sons. Not everyone can relate to this theme; maybe, I 
thought, it means that it is written in my destiny to do 
this work in the name of protecting Nenets sacred 
sites and for the sake of my people. And so, although 
I have not become a shamanka [female shaman] my- 
self, I could approach this sacred field from another 
angle— the scientific. 

I belong to the community of tundra Cydan Nenets, 
a special ethno-territoriai grouping living on Gydan Pen- 
insula (Figs. 46, 47). The Gydan Nenets have a special 
dialect [of the Nenets language], and they live sepa- 

Barents Sea 



Kara Sea 


Arkhangel'sk/YNaryan MarJ^^^S^ o"^7/-' 

y 5 / 

udinlca v 


> > / 



^ ^ ,^"»^_Novyi Urengoy '"Oi 

Tazovskiyv / 

to \ 

\ Khanty-Manslisk '^■O. 



46/ /Area populated by the Nenets people in Arctic Russia (dotted line). The study region, the home of the Cydan 
tundra Nenets on the Cydan Peninsula, is shown by a diagonal pattern. 



rately from other groups of tundra reindeer Nenets by 
virtue of our land's remoteness. My parents were rein- 
deer herders employed by the Cydan State Fisheries 
Processing Plant. Throughout their life, they cared for a 
large herd of government-owned reindeer, and upon 
retirement, they became private reindeer herders. The 
family herding operation is carried on now by my broth- 
ers, who live in a tundra camp; they inherited my par- 
ents' reindeer together with our family guardian spirits. 
I, to the contrary, left the tundra at an early age, gradu- 

47/ Calina Kharyuchi (center) during a winter field survey. 

ated from Tyumen University, worked for many years 
as a schoolteacher, became engaged in anthropologi- 
cal research, and defended a dissertation on the his- 
tory and culture of my people. Although I live in 
Salekhard, I try to visit my relatives on the tundra every 
year, to spend some time in my native environment 
and with my community. As an anthropologist (eth- 
nographer), I am supposed to take a detached view of 
my native tradition, observe changes in the lifestyle 
and spiritual culture of my people, and to gather field 
data, from which I have to make 
conclusions and write scientific pa- 
pers. This is a challenging path. I am 
especially interested in today's 
changes to Nenets spiritual culture, 
and in the attitudes of modern young 
people toward family relics and ritual 
sites, and their own performance of 
ceremonies and rituals. 

It is not easy to get to my native 
"roots." First, I fly from Salekhard, to 
the city of Novyi Urengoy, and from 
there, to the district center, the town 
of Tazovskskiy. From Tazovskskiy, I 
fly by helicopter to the small north- 
ern town of Gyda(in Nenets: Nedya— 
a pen for wild reindeer). I leave town 
on a reindeer sled, traveling with my 
brothers on a long trek across the 
tundra to our family camp. Forty ki- 
lometers (25 miles) from the town 
of Cyda is the Kliel<lne l<lnan soteya 
site, literally "hill of the sacred sled." 
Sacred sleds with ritual objects [im- 
ages of guardian spirits] are left at 
this sacred site after the death of 
their life-long owners. Two such 
sleds have been left on Kliet<lie l<lian 
soteya. One of them belonged to the 
father of my fellow countryman Port 
Salinder (1 91 7-1 998). A former re- 


48/ Active Nenets sacred site in Southern Yamal, / 996. 

indeer herder and chair of the herders' collective farm 
in the 1950s, he moved to town upon his retirement, 
lived there until the end of his life, and had no reindeer 
of his own. He could not keep his family ritual objects 
in a wooden house that was considered spiritually "un- 
clean." After his death, his son brought his father's old 
sled with all his guardian spirits to this sacred site, where 
it remained until recently. 

In addition to sacred sleds, antlers and heads [old 
skulls] of sacrificed reindeer are left at this place, as 
well as traces of "bloodless" sacrifices, such as offer- 
ings of food and other gifts (Fig. 48). We stop so that 
the reindeer can rest, and we rub our numb arms and 
legs. My brothers walk up the hill and leave their offer- 
ings at the site. They sip and then pour a drop of 
vodkaon the ground regaling the spirit of the site- 
then leave the bottle there, placing it among the ant- 
lers of sacrificed reindeer. Aloud or mentally, they talk 
with the site's spirit, asking for clear weather and a safe 
road. I always stay below: a woman cannot go up to 

this sacred site. 

We travel farther on our reindeer sled across the 
snow-covered white tundra. Coming toward us along 
this route are other herders from their family camps, 
going for supplies or picking up their children in town. 
They have been traveling for twenty-four hours or more. 
We stop, greet each other, exchange news, and go 
our separate ways. Their sled reindeer are tired, but 
ours are anxious to head home. But any time they pass 
the Khekhe l<han soteya site, all Nenets stop their sleds 
without fail and conduct an offering ceremony. Once I 
tried to photograph the site from a distance, but this 
particular shot failed. So, I do not know what it looks 
like in detail and have no recorded image of the site. 

A legend about the genesis of this ritual site exists. 
Once, a large caravan of reindeer sleds (in Nenets, myud) 
was moving across the tundra from north to south. 
The day was clear. The leaders of this long caravan 
had already reached the hill that designated a water- 
shed. Suddenly the sky darkened, the wind rose, and a 


whirlwind of snow began to spin. The reindeer were 
falling and fighting about the sleds; the people were 
ready to drop. Then they began to ask Num (the Nenets 
supreme deity)^ to save them, sacrificing a white bull 
reindeer as a symbol of the white whirlwind. But the 
weather did not calm down; Num had not heard the 
people's supplication. 

Then an old Nenets, the head of this clan, having 
loosened a sacred sled from the reindeer and sleds, 
began to drag it toward the north, from whence the 
blizzard was blowing. But it was hard for him; he was 
old. Suddenly from out of the snowstorm his small 
grandson appeared. The two of them dragged the clan's 
sacred sled to the hilltop. Before their eyes, the hill 
began to grow toward the sky, thus lifting the sacred 
sled. Having risen to the height of a medium-sized 
khorey [a wooden pole for driving reindeer, three to 
four meters long], the hill seemed to stop moving. At 
that very moment, the weather changed, as though there 
had been no snowstorm. Like partridges, the people 
began to shake off the snow. Having collected the rest 
of their reindeer and belongings, they sacrificed three 
bull reindeer. The people stood the heads and antlers 
of the sacrificial reindeer on the hill near the clan's 
sacred sled. The caravan moved off. For a long time, in 
the distance, people saw the clan's sacred sled that had 
been left behind. 

I heard this legend in the early 1 990s from Boris C. 
Shushakov, who is close to me in age. Born in 1 950, he 
lives in the town of Gyda and was about forty years old 
at the time. The knowledge of traditional stories con- 
nected with the history and spirits of a certain site, 
even among the town residents, is evidence of the 
reverence for sacred places that is held by modern 
Nenets people of middle and even quite young age. 

I happened by this site two more times. In the sum- 
mer of 1 997, after my father's funeral, we moved deep 
into the tundra with the family herd and set up our 
family herders' tents not far from this sacred place. Our 
family was in mourning, and for an entire year, none of 
us could visit sacred places. I was surprised that even 

the reindeer and dogs did not go very close to that 
place. The next time was in the summer of 2000. 1 had 
arrived at my family camp in the middle of July to make 
a map of sacred sites. A neighbor from another family 
at our camp, coming from the Salinder clan, made a 
sacrifice to the sacred sled and ancestral spirits. Nenets 
people of the Salinder clan are called khabi and are 
considered of Khanty origin. In the middle of summer, 
they usually make a sacrifice to ancestral spirits. Inhab- 
itants of all neighboring tents must come without an 
invitation and participate in the feasting, together with 
the spirits. I had my own professional interest in the 
ceremony; besides the fact that, as a guest, it was man- 
datory that I show respect to the ancestral spirits. The 
host of the ritual was a private reindeer herder who had 
graduated from an agricultural institute. At one time, he 
had worked as a veterinary expert with the collective 
farm herd. Now there are many such private reindeer 
herders on the Gydan tundra, with high school and even 
higher education, who have their own herds with up to 
500 to 800 reindeer. 

Having moved our family camp from the site 
closer to the village, we set up our tents near an 
abandoned oil rig (Fig. 49), which was in the middle 
of the beautiful, blossoming tundra. Remains of the 
rig's metal construction, sticks, boards, and torn bags 
from cement and some unknown powder were stick- 
ing out of the ground; this place carried a stench. 
However, a lot of good wood suitable for making 
sled parts was available. On the tundra, only dwarf 
birch and rose willow grow, and the only available 
wood is driftwood from the shores of the great riv- 
ers and the Ob Bay. During free shifts from herd 
watch, our men spent time at the abandoned rig and 
made sled parts. I photographed this terrible place 
and asked a few general questions about tundra sa- 
cred sites. Work on my map could only be done 
fitfully, as the men were busy with the reindeer and 
were going to the rig. But my main informant, sixty- 
year-old Khatibi Ivanovich Yabtunai, came for me as 
soon as he had free time and said, "Let's play map." 



49/ Nenets children at an abandoned oil rig site. 

We went to the back part of a tent, and I spread a 
map on the ground and started to mark and write 
on it. The other herders came over in stages, and 
everyone who knew sacred sites identified them, 
and told stories about them. 

Traditional Nenets Views of Spirits and 
Sacred Sites 

In Nenets views, the earth (the ground) is alive, and 
each hillock, hill, river, lake, and sea has a custodial 
spirit. All spirits, regardless of their function, are valued 
as forces that unite the Nenets people. This has been 
noted by many authors as a characteristic not only of 
the Nenets— both tundra- and forest-dwelling— but also 
of their neighbors, the Khanty people [Wiget and 
Balalaeva, this volume]. A place inhabited by a spirit 
was visited not only by the social group to which the 
given spirit "belonged" (or was guardian of), but also 
by many of their neighbors, sometimes from very re- 
mote areas. Native informants assert that the presence 
of sacred sites is an indication of an area belonging to 

a given people forever. Among the Khanty, the des- 
ecration or destruction of any ritual structures was con- 
sidered a trespass on one's clan territory (Kulemzin 
1995:70). Although this statement was made in con- 
nection with the Khanty people, the concept is fully 
applicable to the Nenets as well. 

On the tundra, elders frequently warn young people 
about adopting a respectful attitude to the earth and 
any hill or lake that has its own guardian spirit. In win- 
ter, in the white silence of the tundra, especially in 
gloomy weather or on a sunny spring day when the 
horizon merges with the ground, these places orient 
travelers. They are visible from afar and seem to point 
the way. The same purposes are served by a burial 
ground or cemetery in a high place. If it is the burial 
location of an older person, it is often said that "my 
grandfather or grandmother has shown me the way." 
Places that are sacred in their own nght—Khebidya 
(literally, sacred ground: khebidya means sacred, ya 
means the ground)— are marked by the highest sacred 
importance. Nenets place names signif/ing sacred sites 



frequently contain direct information about the sacred- 
ness of a certain land feature. Khebidya ya is added to 
common place name-formants, such as Ai^o(an island), 
to (lake), soti/suti {a plateau with a wide base and gentle 
slopes), syeda (a hill), yakha (a river), sokho (a high- 
peaked hill with a wide base). Apparently, natural fea- 
tures that contain spirits make up the most basic cat- 
egory of Nenets ritual sites. 

Sacred sites have no precisely established borders 
and no marked transitions into the nearby non-sacred 
landscape. Usually such sites are located in noticeable 
places, near a stone of some special shape, on top of a 
hill, or on the shore of lake (Fig. 50). A lake, too, can be 
sacred; and, therefore, people are forbidden to fish in it, 
or it is mandatory that the first catch be sacrificed to the 
spirit of the sacred lake. A shaman determined when a 
sacred site should be revered by everyone or by a 
particular clan or family, as well as what needed to be 
placed there or was considered khekhe (spirit). The sha- 
man also determined which image this spirit— the cus- 
todian of the given sacred place— has. 

Thus, sacred places are actively used cultural sites. 
They are usually located in the areas where reindeer 
herders live continuously and use for their economic 
activities, although particularly practices, such as herd- 
ing, fishing or trapping, are traditionally limited or of- 
ten completely forbidden at or near the site. This clearly 
puts Native sacred sites to the category of "monuments 
of spiritual culture." They accumulate significance 
through a long history and are characterized by a con- 
servatism of form and ways of practicing/performing 
certain ritual activities. Such functions allow us to de- 
fine a ritual site as a nomadic people's equivalent to a 
temple. Actually, northern sacred sites are true open-air 
temples for my people. Here one can find all major 
spatial and spiritual components of a temple, such as a 
strict layout of the sacred space; a sculpture or an ob- 
ject of religious significance; the developed attributes 
of a ritual at the site focused on this central object or 
sculpture; specified norms and rules of behavior for 
participants; and a sustained tradition about the for- 

1 62 

mation and reasons for emergence of the given sa- 
cred site. The basic difference between a sacred place 
and a temple, characteristic of major world religions, is 
the obvious esoteric nature of the ritual site (Gemuev 
1990; Gemuev and Sagalaev 1986:154); that is, its 
visitation, and even knowledge of it, is open only to a 
small circle of devoted or chosen persons. 

As other peoples go to pray in a temple, for the 
Nenets, such sacred places are temples: "special places 
delineated in oral tradition or legends, having a special 
sacred value, and possessing power over the people 
who belong to a traditional community" (Balalaeva 
1999:142). As Balalaeva has noted (ibid.), these places 
are sacred in the broadest sense: they connect the tra- 
ditional way of life of a people with sacred myths, the 
most ancient cosmological planes of mythology, and 
religious ritual. 

Sacred islands are given special importance by 
the Nenets. As ethnographer Andrei Golovnev has 
pointed out, 

[l]n contrast with the major world religions, 
under the Nenets religious beliefs, the most 
important temple is not considered the one 
that people visit most often, but that (place) 
that is nearly inaccessible or is accessible 
only to the chosen few (2000:208). 

And as Nenets elder Awo Vanuito has stated (Golovnev 
2000:232), "the major gods live at the ends of the Earth." 
Sacred islands are difficult to access, and this circum- 
stance begets the appearance of new customs. Some- 
times there is a transfer from the island to the mainland, 
to the continental coast adjacent to the island, not of 
the sacred place itself, but of all the intended special 
rituals to be performed there. Thus, another sacred site 
for carrying out a ritual appears on the mainland, and 
the coast adjoining the island should also be protected. 
For example, the Ngoya-khebidya-ya site has already 
been "transferred" in such a manner from Shokalskyi 
Island in the Kara Sea to the mainland, and the Yamngon 
khantalba sacred site has been similarly transferred from 
the nearby Sibiryakov Island. 

Restoration of Nenets sacred sites destroyed by 


50/ Nenets sacred site at Cape Tiutey-Sale ("Walrus Cape"), Northwestern Yamal, 1928. 

surveyors and geological prospectors is becoming an- 
other new phenomenon. The Nenets people place scat- 
tered sacrificial antlers, animal skulls, stones, and other 
objects on the original location. In the Nenets' views 
of the spirit world, a magic force exists in features that 
have an unusual appearance. If a stone sits on a given 
place, a shaman could "recognize" that this stone is 
none other than one of the forms into which the spirit 
has become manifest. When I was twelve years old, I 
once went with the children to cut tundra grass, which 
is used as insoles for footwear and for mats. A fog 
came up unexpectedly, and we lost the way to our 
tents. We were lost for a long time, but behaved 
quietly and did not panic. We became tired and de- 
cided to rest on a hill. On this place, we saw a stone 
that looked similar to a seated person. While sitting 
around it, we decided that this was not an ordinary 
stone, but the spirit of this hill. While we were rest- 
ing, the fog passed, and we easily found the way to 
the tents. We took the stone with us, and our fa- 
ther put it [with other sacred objects] on the sa- 
cred family sled. 

The Survey Area 

Cydan Peninsula is the northeastern-most extension of 
the West Siberian plain, roughly between 68°N and 
73°N and between the mouths of Taz and Ob Bays on 
the west and Yenisey Bay in the east. A large part of 
the peninsula is related administratively to the Taz Dis- 
trict of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The district 
also includes the northern part of neighboring Taz Pen- 
insula, which is washed on the north and east by the 
waters of Taz Bay. The total area of Taz District is 
1 73,4000 square kilometers (66,950 square miles); its 
administrative center is the town of Tazovskiy— in 
Nenets, Khalmer-sede, which means "Dead Men's Cape." 

Three large Native communities, the towns of Cyda, 
Antipayuta, and Nakhodka, are in the district territory. 
Also on Cydan Peninsula proper are several small vil- 
lages and trading posts: Matyuy-sale, Yesya-yakha, 
Khalmervonga, Yuribey, Razvilka, Mongatolyang, 
Nyakhar-yakha, and Tanamo. The area under the Cydan 
Town Council authority has more than 3,000 residents 
(3,279 as of January 1 , 2004), mostly Nenets, including 
several hundred nomadic families living in tundra camps. 


By decision of the Yamal-Nenets Okrug administration, 
and with the consent of Russian federal agencies, Gydan 
Peninsula was given the status of a "specially protected 
ethno-natural territory," in which only traditional sub- 
sistence activities such as reindeer herding, hunting, 
and fishing are allowed. 

Surveys and ethnographic research focused on 
drafting a map of traditional Nenets sacred sites and 
adjoining areas are regarded as critical components 
to creating an appropriate legislative base for their fu- 
ture protection, which is an ultimate goal of our work. 
This should solve several problems. The legislative ac- 
tions will protect the homeland of the Northern indig- 
enous peoples, and thus will facilitate the preservation 
of an ancient civilization of nomadic reindeer herders. 
The actions will create additional protected areas for 
preserving the flora and fauna of northern regions, which 
will facilitate the continuity of natural landscapes and 
sustainable development of the North. 

In the territory of the Gydan Peninsula, several 
"specially protected natural areas" have been estab- 
lished by various legislative actions during the last 
few decades. 

—Gydan Federal Nature Reserve {Cydanskii gosud- 
arstvennyi zapovednik) 

878,1 74 hectares (3,390 square miles) in area, 
this reserve of national significance was estab- 
lished by Decree No. 1 67 of the Government of 
the Russian Federation on October 7, 1 996. Its 
purpose was "the preservation of genetic stock 
of the plant and animal species, discrete types 
and communities of plants and animals, and the 
typical and unique ecological systems of the 

— Yamal State Wildlife Preserve, {Yamal'skii prirodnyi 

Of regional significance, the Gydan site, 1 62,000 
hectares (625 square miles) in area, was estab- 
lished by Resolution No. 322 of the Tyumen 
Regional Executive Committee on May 1 9, 1 977, 
for a period of ten years. A ruling (No. 66) by 
the governor of the Yamal-Nenets Area on Feb- 
ruary 11,1 997, extended its validity until 2006. 
Its purpose was "[t]he maintenance of the in- 

tegrity of natural communities; preservation, re- 
production and restoration of disappearing spe- 
cies of animals and birds; and preservation of 
their habitats, flora, and fauna." 

— Gydoyamovskiy State Nature Preserve 

{Gydoyamovskiy phrodnyi zakaznik) 

Of regional significance, this 765,000 hectares 
area (2,954 square miles), is also being planned 
for a large section of the peninsula. According 
to the preserve's prospectus, it is designated as 
a "zoological-botanical" site; that is, it preserves 
the arctic flora and fauna. 

In the district territory, the creation of two more pre- 
serves has been proposed, the status of which will be 
specified during the design phase: 

— Taz Bay Fishery Preserve 

Encompasing Taz Bay, including the mouth and 
lower watercourse of the Taz River, a 300,000 
hectares area (1,158 square miles), its goal is 
preservation of a valuable fishing basin. Pros- 
pecting, exploration, and commercial drilling for 
oil and gas will be prohibited. 

— Messoyakha Preserve 

In the middle and lower courses of the 
Messoyakha River, 5,000 hectares in area (20 
square miles), its goals are the same as listed 
for the Taz Bay Preserve. 

Besides the existing and planned natural pre- 
serves,'' the Taz District features two smaller "natural 

—Nyamboy, a forest "islet" on the arctic tundra, 
considered "a botanical monument" 

—Messoyakha, 600 hectares (1 ,482 acres) in area, 
in the Lake Lysukai-to area. Renowned for nu- 
merous discoveries of fossilized animals: mam- 
moths, musk oxen, and so on, it has been desig- 
nated as a "paleontological natural monument." 

The Russian federal "Regulation for Natural Pre- 
serves" also established an additional two-kilome- 
ter secure zone, extending outward from the estab- 
lished border of protected areas. 

Several Nenets sacred sites exist on the Yavay (Evay- 
Sale), Oleniy, and Mammoth Peninsulas; on Sibiriakov, 
Shokalskiy, and Oleniy Islands, which are part of the 



Gydanskiy Federal Reserve, on the Gydan site of the 
Yamal State Nature Preserve, and on the projected 
Gydoyamovskiy Preserve. In accordance with the offi- 
cial Russian designation of protected areas (nature pre- 
serves, monuments, and parks see Shul'gin, this vol- 
ume), geological exploration, construction, and other 
industrial activities are forbidden or strictly limited within 
their boundaries; but the traditional subsistence activ- 
ity of the indigenous population is allowed. 

Several large fields of fuel and energy deposits have 
been mapped and explored in the territory governed 
by the Gydan Town Council: 

—Shtormovoye (Storm) field, 24,000 hectares (93 
square miles) in size, with gas and gas condensate 

—Utrenn'ee (Morning) field, 1 22,000 hectares (471 
square miles) in size, with gas, gas condensate, and 

—Cydanskoye (Gydan) field, 65,000 hectares (251 
square miles) in size, with gas and gas condensate. 

Legislative Basis for the Protection of 
Nenets Sacred Places 

In April 2001 , the Federal Duma of the Russian Federa- 
tion enacted the federal law "On the Lands of Tradi- 
tional Subsistence-Use of the Indigenous Minority 
Peoples of the North, Siberia, and the Russian Far East," 
which had been discussed by the Russian Federal Duma 
(Parliament) for many years. According to this law, pri- 
ority areas used for traditional subsistence are desig- 
nated to provide conditions for the preservation and 
development of "historically established" economies 
that are the basis for the daily activities and spiritual 
culture of Northern indigenous peoples. Priority sub- 
sistence use areas include reindeer pastures, clan and 
ancestral hunting-and-fishing grounds, natural monu- 
ments, and ritual-cultural places. In the neighboring 
Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug [to the south of the 
Yamal-Nenets Okrug], where the majority of the Native 
lands are under industrial development, it has been 
proposed that a part of the lands now under industrial 
development be withdrawn and designated as priority 

subsistence-use areas of the Native population [see 
Wiget and Balalaeva, this volume]. A paradoxical situa- 
tion thus arose: it is necessary to "withdraw" ancestral 
Native lands from industrialists and oil companies in 
order to return them to their owners. 

According to the enacted laws, "priority subsis- 
tence-use areas" in the North are to be secured for 
registered "enterprises" of traditional economy(ies)— 
that is. Native family or clan herding and fishing coop- 
eratives, communities or other economic institutions 
employing Native people. In the area under consider- 
ation, which is administered by the Gydan Town Coun- 
cil, no new registered community or family "enterprises" 
have been created by or of local residents as yet. There- 
fore, Gydan local authorities or the management of the 
Gydan State Fisheries Processing Plant allocate pastures 
and assign reindeer migration paths to individual rein- 
deer herders or families who graze public reindeer herds 
(herds owned by Okrug and local agencies). 

In Yamal-Nenets Okrug, the local legislative and 
executive authorities think that the actual economic 
life-sustaining base of these people is the land in the 
so-called "traditional subsistence-use areas." The total 
area of these lands in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug is 
76,925,000 hectares (297,000 square miles). It is essen- 
tial to secure traditional subsistence-use lands for local 
residents before any active industrial development takes 
place so that the lands do not need to be withdrawn 
later, as has been recently proposed for the neighbor- 
ing Khanty-Mansi Okrug. 

On October 1 , 1 997, a law was enacted in the Yamal- 
Nenets Autonomous Okrug titled "About the Regula- 
tion of Land Use in Places of Residence and Tradi- 
tional Economic Activity by Indigenous Minority 
Peoples of the North on Lands of Yamal-Nenets Au- 
tonomous Okrug." The creation of communities and 
the securing of ancestral lands are being carried out 
based on the recently enacted Culy 2000) Russian fed- 
eral law, "About General Principles for Establishing Com- 
munities of Indigenous Minority Peoples of the North, 
Siberia, and the Russian Far East," and Chapter 6 of the 


Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug Law, "About Local 
Self-Management in Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug," 
which is titled "The Form of Providing for the Local 
Self-Management of Indigenous Minority Peoples of the 
North in the Areas of Their Compact Residence." This 
law was enacted in December 1 996. 

The version of the "specially protected natural ar- 
eas" that is known as "Ethno-Natural Parks" is another 
form of protection for the indigenous population's lands 
in the Russian North [Shul'gin, this volume]. The legal 
basis for establishing ethno-natural parks is found in 
Section 1 U, "On Natural Parks," of the Russian federal 
law (No. 33-F3) of March 14, 1995, "About Specially 
Protected Natural Territories." In the Yamal-Nenets 
Okrug, a law titled, "About Specially Protected Natural 
Territories of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug," 
also was enacted on October 14, 1997. A federal law 
titled "About the Bases for Government Regulation of 
the Social and Economic Development of the North of 
the Russian Federation" (Article 1 2) was enacted June 
1 9, 1 996. Another important legislative act is the Yamal- 
Nenets Autonomous Okrug Law of October 21,1 998, 
titled, "On Reindeer Herding." This law establishes the 
legal, economic, environmental, and social bases by 
nominating reindeer herding as one of the key tradi- 
tional economic activities for Northern indigenous 
peoples, it also created conditions for support of effec- 
tive economic practices of Native herders and for the 
preservation of their traditional lifestyle and culture 
{Sbomik zakonov 1 999:493). The federal version of the 
same law pertaining to the reindeer herding activities 
of the indigenous peoples of Siberia and the Russian 
North is still under deliberation by the Russian Federal 
Duma (as of 2004). 

Presently in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug, lands under 
heavy industrial (oil and gas) development are, for the 
most part, located in the Pur, Yamal, and Nadym Dis- 
tricts, and in the southern section of Taz District, where 
major oil and gas deposits have been under explora- 
tion and industrial exploitation since the 1 970s. In these 
areas, the traditional habitat of the indigenous peoples 

is being severely damaged, and several measures are 
being taken for restoring traditional economic sectors, 
for example, by creating clan- and family-based Native 
"communities" [cooperatives or other economic units]. 
Establishing such communities and registering them as 
economic units is one form of securing traditional-use 
lands for individual families or clan- and territorial-based 
groups. However, by 2001 , in the entire Yamal-Nenets 
Okrug's territory, only five "indigenous communities" 
had been registered, with a total population of 1 ,251 . 
Of those communities, four were in the Pur District and 
one was in Priural'sk District. That is why adoption of 
the Russian federal law "About the Traditional Use Lands 
of Indigenous Minority Peoples of the North" is so 
essential for resolving problems related to the land 
rights and land ownership of the Russian indigenous 
peoples. By the year 2004, the number of registered 
"indigenous communities" in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug 
grew to twenty-seven, but they still constitute the mi- 
nority of the okrug's Native population. 

Matters are more favorable in my native area, on 
the Gydan Peninsula. The development of oil and 
gas deposits there has been put on hold since the 
early 1990s, and at this time the industry has no 
visible impact on the daily life and the economy of 
local indigenous people. Both public sector Native 
employees of the municipal enterprise "Gydan State 
Fisheries" and individual nomadic families are en- 
gaged primarily in traditional economic activities, 
such as reindeer herding, fisheries, trapping, and so 
on. On January 1 , 2003, there were 1 ,050 Native no- 
madic families in the entire Taz District (with a com- 
bined population of 5,188); of those, 787 nomadic 
families, with a combined population of 2,373, are 
under the Jurisdiction of the Gydan Town Council. 
As of January 1 , 2004, the total number of domestic 
reindeer in the Gydan Peninsula is about 92,000, of 
which but 4,000 are owned and managed by the 
Gydan State Fisheries Processing Plant [which is a 
holdover from the old Soviet economic system] and 
about 88,000 belong to individual families of Nenets 



private reindeer herders. 

The Program "Cultural Heritage of Indig- 
enous People of the Yamal-Nenets Okrug": 
Some Preliminary Results 

However, the days will eventually come when pros- 
pectors and company workers will return to our lands 
to resume the aborted industrial exploitation of the 
Storm, Morning, and Cydan oil and gas fields, where 
dozens of active sacred sites and cultural monu- 
ments of the Cydan Nenets are located. We are aware 
that such a development may be resumed at any 
time, and we should be prepared in the future to 
face this challenge to our traditional economies, 
lifestyles, and culture. 

Preserving the historical heritage of Northern people, 
including their reindeer-herding culture and way of life, 
is a complicated problem for which the governmental 
agencies, scientific institutions, and public organiza- 
tions of Russia should bear (and share) responsibility. 
Many new federal and local laws support these pur- 
poses. Under these new Russian laws, direct responsi- 
bility for preserving sacred sites lies with the compa- 
nies and organizations that explore and develop the 
areas where indigenous peoples reside. 

Northern sacred sites symbolize both the unique 
core and the most important component of cultural 
heritage of the Nenets, Khanty, Selkup, and other Na- 
tive people. This core can be easily damaged and even 
destroyed by industrial development if left unchecked 
and without special means for preservation. Therefore, 
the system of protected natural areas that exists now in 
Russia should include both natural protected areas and 
sacred sites of the Native population. Unfortunately, in 
Russia in general and in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug in 
particular, very few people are engaged in the study 
and documentation of Native sacred sites, much less in 
their protection; and current efforts in this field are ut- 
terly insufficient [see Fedorova, this volume]. 

The protection of sacred sites in Russia and the 
designation of special status for them were discussed 


publicly for the first time in the mid-1990s only. The 
issue was raised repeatedly by representatives of pub- 
lic organizations, leaders of Native communities, and 
heads of the Russian Associations of Indigenous Mi- 
nority Peoples of the North (RAIPON). In 1 998, at the 
Eighth General Assembly of the Inuit Circumpolar Con- 
ference (Nuuk, Greenland; July 29, 1 998), the President 
of RAIPON, Sergei N. Kharyuchi, argued for the need 
to include sacred sites and ritual places of Northern 
indigenous peoples in the system of protected areas 
(Kharyuchi 1 998, 1 999:69-72). Sergei N. Kharyuchi, as 
do I, comes from a Nenets herding family from the Taz 
District. Soon Kharyuchi approached the governor of 
the Yamal-Nenets okrug, Mr. lurii Ne'elov, with a re- 
quest for the assistance of the okrug administration in 
documenting and protecting these sacred sites. In re- 
ply, in 1999 Governor Ne'elov signed a special regula- 
tion in this regard (see below). 

Until then, only two programs for documenting the 
sacred sites of indigenous people had been in opera- 
tion across the entire northern section of Russia: on 
Vaygach Island in the Barents Sea— by a group from 
the Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage of Russia, 
under the direction of Petr Boiarskii (Boiarskii and Liutyi 
1 999; Boiarskii and Stoliarov 2000)— and, in the Surgut 
District of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug [Balalaeva 
1 999; see also Wiget and Balalaeva, this volume]. On 
Vaygach Island, where the Native population is vir- 
tually absent and there are hardly any tourists or 
geologists, the preservation of Nenets sacred sites 
is probably not threatening to anyone. In Khanty-Mansi 
okrug, the situation is much worse, and despite a large 
amount of work on documenting sacred sites and Na- 
tive ritual places, the protection of these places has 
not yet been legislated. 

In the Yamal-Nenets Okrug, the official documenta- 
tion of sacred sites for their preservation was started; 
but in the most recent years, Governor lurii Ne'elov 
issued the special regulation, "About the Creation of a 
Historical-Ethnographic and Scientific Research Center 
for Indigenous Minority Peoples of the North" (No. 786, 

1 67 

December 20, 1 999). Under that regulation, provisions 
were made, in particular, for financing the construction 
of historical-ethnographic and scientific research cen- 
ter (or "complex") in the city of Salekhard. The Scien- 
tific Center for Humanitarian Research on Indigenous 
Minority Peoples of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous 
Okrug (CHR), an ethnographic museum with collections 
on Native peoples, an exhibition hall, souvenir work- 
shops, and a store, would be housed in its building. 
Simultaneously, the Department of Affairs of Indigenous 
Minority Peoples under the Okrug administration was 
tasked with drafting a Yamal-Nenets Okrug law titled, 
"About the Ritual and Religious Places of the Indig- 
enous Minority Peoples in Yamal-Nenets Autonomous 
Area." Together with the CHR, the department was tasked 
to prepare a map of Native sacred sites to be included 
in the list of cultural and historical monuments located 
on the Okrug territory [see also Fedorova, this vol- 
ume]. In the year 2000, a new research and survey pro- 
gram, "The Cultural Heritage of Indigenous Minority 
Peoples of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug" was 
launched, which developed and implemented special 
measures for protecting cultural heritage monuments, 
including traditional sacred sites and ritual places. 

For this purpose, it was necessary to produce de- 
tailed maps of Native sacred sites. In 2000, preliminary 
surveys for identif/ing and researching Nenets sacred 
sites on the Yamal and Cydan peninsulas were con- 
ducted, under a contract with the okrug administration. 
I was put in charge of the surveys on the Cydan Penin- 
sula, and Leonid Lar was named the principal investiga- 
tor for the Yamal District. At first, we used available 
handwritten and published schematic maps, which both 
Lar and I made during our previous research and in 
preparation for our Ph.D. dissertations (Kharyuchi 1 999, 
2001 ; Lar 2000). These first maps of sacred sites were 
incomplete, as they were executed in fits and starts in 
the course of other field trips and short-term visits or 
vacations. For the starter, I used the small-scale maps 
from my dissertation and the initial text from the sec- 
tion devoted to traditions and innovations in the sa- 

1 68 

cred sphere of the Nenets (Kharyuchi 1999, 2001:81- 
1 01 ). Lar also relied on his own materials, including his 
sketchy map of Nenets sacred places on the Yamal 
Peninsula published in 1 995 (Lar 1 995: 1 67). Only thirty- 
eight sacred sites on the entire Yamal Peninsula were 
featured on this earlier map, accompanied by a short 
text, although Lar has been collecting materials on sa- 
cred sites since 1986 (Lar 2000:166). Since 1995, Lar 
collected more extensive field data and made a much 
more complete map of sacred places. He personally 
surveyed many sacred sites featured on the map, whereas 
others have been documented from the words of his 
Nenets informants who live nearby. In total, Lar has 
identified more than fifty Nenets sacred sites in the 
Yamal District, with detailed descriptions, site name iden- 
tifications, and analysis of their modern conditions. 

For the 2000 program, new tasks were formulated, 
more sophisticated methods for sacred sites documen- 
tation were determined, and the first annual report was 
composed in 2001. All our field reports and materials 
were submitted to the Department of Affairs of Indig- 
enous Peoples of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous 
Okrug, which sponsored this program. As soon as fi- 
nancing was available in July 2000, I left for the first 
field trip in the Taz District. It was necessary to work 
onsite with the local Nenets assistants who had critical 
information about the sacred sites. Information about 
why these maps were being made was disseminated 
widely; therefore, the charting of maps and recording 
of data on sacred sites involved the nomadic Nenets 
population for the first time in the process of state- 
sponsored protection of places of cultural significance 
and lands of traditional subsistence (Fig. 51). We hope 
that, in the future, local residents will be able to partici- 
pate directly in land management (security measures) 
and development of traditional land use. This is espe- 
cially important in light of any future actions on the 
development of the oil-and-gas industry on Cydan Pen- 
insula and in northern Yamal. 

The maps of Nenets sacred sites that Lar and I are 
developing will be submitted to the register of cultural 


51/ Nenets herders work on the map of traditional sacred sites, summer 2001 . 

and historical monuments of the Yamal-Nenets Autono- 
mous OI<rug. The final stage will be preparing a re- 
search report and creating a map titled "Sacred Sites of 
Gydan Peninsula" as a classified document "for agency 
use." It is worth mentioning that no modern topographic 
maps were given to us for the project and each of us 
worked with old maps that we had scrambled together 
on various occasions in Salekhard. I used an old map 
of the Gydan Peninsula produced in 1 960, with a scale 
of 1 :300,000 (1 centimeter = 3 kilometers), which fea- 
tured several incorrectly located rivers and lakes, as 
my informants indicated. During trips and work in herd- 
ers' tents, the map became scuffed and torn. Unfortu- 
nately, I had neither more detailed maps nor any other 
modern equipment on these trips [such as GPS and/or 
satellite and air imagery]. In December 2000, when 
the preliminary maps of sacred sites were delivered 
together with the report, they registered some 125 
sacred sites, possibly less than half of all the existing 
ritual sites of the Gydan Nenets. The revision and up- 

date of the materials collected under the program was 
reserved for the 2001 field season. My map of sacred 
sites, with the attached descriptive materials, is to be 
submitted "for agency use" only; Lar plans to publish 
his data eventually as a monograph. 

Final maps of sacred sites will be delivered to the 
okrug administration and to the Inspectorate on Pro- 
tection and Use of Monuments of History and Culture 
(created in January 2000). Additional copies of maps 
will be submitted to municipal agencies of the Taz 
and Yamal Districts, and, through them, to local village 
administrations, and to the oil-and-gas and other en- 
terprises working in the two districts. 

The program "Preservation of the Cultural Heritage 
of Indigenous Peoples of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous 
Okrug" has been the first positive experience in col- 
laboration among the Okrug administration, local re- 
searchers, and indigenous people. For the first time 
professional ethnographers— natives to their districts 
and members of the very same indigenous communi- 


ties (Fig. 52) who are interested in and worried about 
the preservation of their people's heritage— have been 
involved in this work. Knowledge of Native language 
and traditional culture is helping us observe ethical 
and moral standards while gathering materials on the 
delicate topic of sacred sites, their modern uses, and 
the preservation of ritual traditions connected with them. 

Of course, the results of the one-year program were 
limited, considering the modest funding. In 2000-2001 , 
the okrug administration allocated just 40,000 rubles 
[about $1400 USD] to Leonid Lar and me for our sur- 
veys; we were able to accomplish little for this amount. 
In my plans, I had outlined continuing the surveys and 
searching for additional or new financing. But our re- 
search unexpectedly received international support. In 
April 2001, a seminar took place in Moscow with the 
participation of representatives of the International Sec- 
retariat of Indigenous Peoples, and an agreement for a 
new pilot project was signed, called "The Significance 
of Protecting Sacred Sites of the Indigenous Popula- 
tion of the Arctic: Sociological Research in the North 
of Russia." The project was supported by the Russian 
Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North 
(RAIPON), the Danish Environmental Preservation 
Agency (DEPA), the program "Conservation of Arctic 
Flora and Fauna" (CAFF), and the Indigenous Peoples' 
Secretariat (IPS). For the 2001 surveys, a small amount 
of funding was allocated to the Taz District of Yamal- 
Nenets Autonomous Okrug, as having some experi- 
ence in such studies. Additional funding was given to 
surveys in the Olyutorsk District in the Koryak Autono- 
mous Okrug in the north of Kamchatka. 

This joint international project emphasized that sa- 
cred sites of northern indigenous peoples are often 
located in areas where the preservation of nature is 
also important. Therefore, preservation of such sites 
would promote protection of the environment as a 
whole. Great attention was given to the ecological value 
of indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge about 
sacred sites. In the course of the project, the biological 
characteristics that make a site "sacred" to local people 

1 70 

were to be established. 

With the 2001 funding, some sociological research 
was also conducted and over seventy local residents — 
Native reindeer herders, hunters, and fishermen— were 
interviewed. Plans were made to extend the existing 
maps of Nenets sacred sites for the entire Gydan Pen- 
insula that includes Gydan and Antipayuta tundra. My 
former student, Michael Okotetto, of the reindeer Nenets 
origin, was appointed as the lead researcher for the 
project. Michael used to work as an inspector for the 
protection division of the /Vesey farming enterprise of 
private reindeer herders in his native Seyakha River 
region in the Yamal District. Today he is a staff re- 
searcher of the CHR and he is also the head of the 
herders' cooperative (obshchina) called llebts, which 
means "giving life" in the Nenets language. His knowl- 
edge of English was one of the selection criteria for 
participating in the project. I became his advisor and 
regional supervisor for the fieldwork in the Taz Dis- 
trict. Together we composed a sociological question- 
naire for interviewing local residents. Our fieldwork was 
conducted until September 2001; then we analyzed 
the collected materials, questionnaires, and site reports. 
By that time, dozens of local residents were involved 
in one way or another in reporting information on sa- 
cred sites through our survey; and, simultaneously, we 
informed local people about our tasks and dissemi- 
nated materials on our previous work. Altogether, some 
260 Native sacred sites have been mapped and docu- 
mented within the study area, including data on the 
current status of the sites; its origins; associated tradi- 
tional rites; natural environment (such as, physical land- 
scape, vegetation, etc.). Our preliminary project report 
was produced in 2003, in both Russian and English 
versions, and it will be published shortly. Brief results 
of our 2001 survey were also published elsewhere 
(Kharyuchi 2002a, 2002b, 2003). 


In summary, I want to share some personal consider- 
ations about the results of my work in the documenta- 


52/ Nenets reindeer herders from the Gydan Peninsula, 2000. These men, now mostly in their 30s and 40s, are 
the keepers of the life style and cultural traditions of their ancestors. 

tion of Nenets sacred sites in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug 
for more than a decade. In my view, personal charac- 
teristics of a given researcher are very important to 
this type of worl<. IVIale ethnographers have a much 
wider access in studying rituals, traditions, and stories 
related to sacred places (and even more information 
may be open to a Native artist, such as my colleague 
Leonid Lar). What is most important is the ability to 
visit sacred sites and (engage in) the graphical docu- 
mentation and identification of the ritual objects lo- 
cated there. Certainly, even to a Native researcher who 
grew up in a traditional family, it is hard, both physi- 
cally and psychologically, to visit each and every known 
sacred site, even for the sake of science; it is less pos- 
sible (even for a male Native researcher), to make 
sketches and measurements, and take photographs 
there. Such actions at sacred sites usually elicit con- 
demnation from local people, especially from elders. 
According to traditional norms, no woman, includ- 

ing a female Native ethnographer, can visit a sacred 
site, except for female sites and those that are acces- 
sible to everyone. Even today, this taboo is still ap- 
plied strictly, even to Native scientists of local origins. 
In addition to the restrictions on visiting, there are 
restrictions on the specific questions a woman can pose 
to men, especially to elders. Naturally, the old men did 
not share with me what I could not ask them about. 
Also, the attitude toward scientists even from indig- 
enous peoples has a dichotomy of "ours / not ours," 
"from our region or an outsider," which has great impor- 
tance. For example, in my case, my long and enduring 
connections with my native region have helped my 
research on Nenets sacred places on the Gydan tundra. 
In my native district, most of the people in their forties 
and fifties ("the middle generation"), that is, my con- 
temporaries, know me well— from the boarding school, 
teaching college, and/or my earlier work as a teacher. 
Youths and children of school age know my name from 


the curriculum. Elderly people refer to my father's 
memory respectfully; and they esteem my mother, who 
raised my brothers and sisters, who are also well known 
and respected people in the district. The kind memory 
of my husband's late father, Nikolai Maximovich 
Kharyuchi, who worked during World War II as the head 
of the Red Tent Brigade on the Gydan Peninsula [edu- 
cational and medical teams that offered services to the 
nomadic families before the establishment of local 
hospitals and schools], is still alive. His sons are now 
well-known people in the district; and, they are my 
relatives. 5 This also facilitated my access and worked 
greatly to the success of my surveys of sacred sites. 

In our tundra district, no one, especially of the Nenets 
origin, has ever collected information about Native sa- 
cred places, even during earlier campaigns aimed at 
the persecution of shamans [in the 1 930s, 1 940s, and 
1 950s]. In our area, the attitude toward visiting ethnog- 
raphers has always been positive and a little bit indul- 
gent because, from the Nenets viewpoint, they usually 
are interested in "funny (if not foolish) questions and 
things;" but no harm has ever been seen from them. 
Leonid Lar, ethnographer, artist, and my partner in the 
documentation of traditional sacred places, has talked 
about how Nenets women laughed at him when he 
asked them to show their needlework pouches so that 
he could make sketches. 

It is sometimes believed that more can be told to a 
"foreign" researcher— that is, to a visitor, an outsider 
(i.e., Zen'ko 2000)— than to one of "our own," particu- 
larly if such a researcher is a woman, and especially if a 
visiting ethnographer is going to pose some delicate, 
even intimate (personal) questions about which "one 
of us" would never dare to inquire directly. But most 
likely, vague and often incorrect information would be 
given to such an outside researcher, simply to be rid of 
him. We find references to such obviously incorrect 
information even in many solid scientific publications. 

Of course, the most negative attitude of the local 
population is toward oil and gas workers and geologi- 
cal prospectors. Nenets elders are afraid of these newly 

1 72 

arrived, inconsiderate people and of their evil acts in 
relation to the tundra and its inhabitants. At the same 
time, they think with pity about "those who do not 
know sin" and believe that these people will someday 
be punished for their desecration of Nenets sacred 
places and defiance to their spirits. However, I also 
think with some apprehension of the archaeologists 
preparing to engage in describing and studying Nenets 
sacred sites and burial places (Fedorova 2000:11-2; 
Kharyuchi 2000:78). It is difficult to say whether the 
tundra people will understand and cooperate with them. 

As a Nenets woman, I have a responsibility to fol- 
low my native traditions that prescribe certain rules of 
behavior (as well as certain restrictions and taboos on 
the possession and distribution of sacred knowledge). 
But I also recognize my huge responsibility to my 
people. Frequently doubt arises about whether I am, in 
fact, doing the right thing by being so actively en- 
gaged in this work on documenting sacred sites and 
traditional ritual places. Will this some day hurt me and 
my family, my children or even my grandchildren? Have 
the spirits of these places become enraged? Still, I be- 
lieve that this work has to be performed in this time; it 
happened that this mission fell to me as a Native eth- 
nographer. And how else could we protect the most 
sacred cultural property of my people? Any deliberate 
policy of hiding information on sacred sites, of with- 
drawing it from outsiders (such as confidential data- 
bases, confidential information only "for our own 
people" and so on) is possible on reservations or on 
tribal lands. There, people are entitled with the rights to 
their land; they control to whom and how access to 
their territory is given. In our Yamal-Nenets Okrug and 
everywhere in Siberia, there is none of this, which means 
that anyone can come to our land (without asking our 
permission) and destroy our monuments, pleading their 

Under traditional Nenets society, there was no need 
for special protection of sacred sites: people lived by 
the customs of their ancestors and did not visit sacred 
places without a special purpose [such as to make ritu- 


53/ Traditional Nenets sacred site on Yamal Peninsula, 1928. 

als and offerings]. People from other groups who lived 
in the villages or traveled through the tundra feared 
these places and avoided them altogether; there was 
never an incident of defilement or vandalism on their 
part. Native people still strictly follow these rules to- 
day. But times have changed: geologists, gas, and oil 
workers have arrived; and we are not alone in our lands. 
In the boundless tundra, we cannot put a protective 
plaque at each and every sacred place (Fig. 53). Thus, 
local residents themselves must protect their sites, 
should put up notices, and must actively protest if their 
sacred places are exposed to destruction. However, 
many local people are still passive or shy with the 
authorities. When they see that their sacred sites are 
pilfered from, damaged, or destroyed by the new ar- 
rivals, all the tundra people can do is to rely on those 
who are more educated, literate, and who are more 
skilled in talking to the officials. Many of my rural kins- 
men still view such educated Native professionals as 
the only defenders of their culture and way of life. 

This means that some system of governmental pro- 
tection for Native sacred places and other ritual sites is 
absolutely necessary. In principle, those Native sacred 
sites that are located on the lands of federal nature 
reserves or local preserves (and there are quite a few of 
them in our region) fall under some protection, inas- 
much as access to such areas is strictly limited. At any 
rate, that is what is written in federal and okrug regula- 
tions about protected natural areas. Accordingly, it is 
essential that the regulations on security measures and 
limited access to sacred sites be applied widely and 
more strictly. To put such sites under governmental 
protection, it is important to identify them as sacred 
places, position them on a map, and document the navi- 
gational/positioning coordinates. A survey should con- 
firm whether the site is located within the borders of a 
specially protected natural area (preserve, reserve, bio- 
sphere reserve, etc.), and determine its dimensions and 
biological characteristics (such as landscape, type of 
vegetation, and so on). 


All other information about sacred places is identi- 
fied and recorded exclusively in accordance with the 
wishes and with the full consent of the local Native 
population. For example, the keeper (owner) of a fam- 
ily or clan sacred site has his full right to withhold 
certain information from recording and to share only 
the portion he considers necessary. I believe that there 
must be some sort of classified information for the 
preservation of sacred knowledge and of Native cul- 
tural tradition. 

The recent survey and documentation of Nenets 
sacred sites on the Vaygach Island [in the Barents Sea] 
conducted by the Marine Arctic Interdisciplinary Expe- 
dition of the Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage 
of Russia can be cited as a model for such an approach. 
A mockup map of sacred places on Vaygach Island has 
been prepared and a catalogue/directory of local cul- 
tural monuments has already been published (Boiarskii 
and Liutyi 1999; Boiarskii and Stoliarov 2000). Alto- 
gether, some 1 50 natural monuments and more than 
230 monuments of local history and traditional Nenets 
culture are shown on the map and described in the 
catalogue. The significance of Vaygach Island, which is 
sacred to the Nenets and is referred to in the Nenets 
language as Khekhe ngo (Island of idols), is that this 
island has had no permanent Native residents during 
the last few centuries. At the same time, this was the 
main location of several important Nenets sacred sites 
that were visited periodically. The sacred sites of 
Vaygach Island held a critical place in the hierarchy of 
ritual centers of the Nenets' sacred world. According to 
Nenets tradition, the island was the place where the 
key Nenets spirits (ancestors or major gods) used to 
live and the figures or effigies (wooden sculptures) of 
these main spirits were once located. 

in 1827, these wooden images were destroyed 
(burned) by Russian Orthodox missionaries; on Vaygach 
Island alone, more than 400 wooden and twenty stone 
idols were destroyed (Lekhtisalo 1 998:64-6; Veniyamin 
1855:125). The Nenets believe that after the images 
of the main Nenets gods were destroyed, their "spirit 

children" flew off the island and settled in many places 
throughout the areas of Nenets migrations, from the 
Kola Peninsula to the Yenisey River. Many legends 
exist related to this dispersal of the Nenets spirits from 
the island and across the Nenets area. In the beginning, 
two stones— idols of Vaigach-Vesako (Old Man) and - 
Khadako (Old Woman)— were venerated. They had four 
sons, "who dispersed to various places on the tundra." 
Nyu-khekhe (Son-idol / Son-spirit) remained as a small 
rock on the Vaygach Island. Minisey was a peak of the 
Polar Ural Mountain Range; Ya mal khekhe moved to 
the western side of the Ob Bay; and Khar Pod was a 
larch glade or Kozmin Coppice in the Kanin tundra 
along the White Sea shore (Veniyamin 1855:125). In 
1 983, Vaygach Island, with adjoining small islands and 
a three-kilometer offshore area, was declared "Vaygach 
State Hunting Preserve" of regional value (total area 
333,000 hectares or 1 ,285 square miles). 

Sacred sites that are not located in the specially 
designated natural preservation areas [such as in fed- 
eral and local nature preserves, parks, etc.] and, in gen- 
eral, all sacred places and burial sites of indigenous 
peoples, should be protected as highly valued monu- 
ments of cultural heritage. Here the mechanism of pro- 
tection is knowledge about their special status and value 
to indigenous peoples, that is, education and cultiva- 
tion of respect for heritage monuments and for others' 
cultural tradition(s). This is especially crucial in areas of 
active industrial development and oil and gas explora- 
tions, where there are many visitors, and, frequently, 
transient people coming in large groups, such as geo- 
logical parties and exploration and rig crews. Both ways 
of protecting our heritage monuments— either by re- 
stricting access to the lands designated under some 
natural protection status or via dissemination of knowl- 
edge, public education, and cultivation of respect to 
Native heritage— should be effective and should supple- 
ment each other. 


1 . Translated by Georgene Sink. Edited by Igor 

1 74 


Krupnik and Cara Seitchek. Krupnik's editorial com- 
ments are added in brackets. 

2. According to Nenets traditional beliefs, the 
surface of the ground is a thin border between "this" 
and the Lower World. Therefore, to the Nenets, it 
was strictly forbidden to dig, excavate, drill or sim- 
ply pick at the ground - ed. 

3. "Num" also means "sky" and "weather." 

4. As of 2004, there were altogether 1 5 areas 
under various forms (regimes) of federal or local pres- 
ervation in the Yamal-Nenets Okrug, including the 
two recently established units, Kharbey "geological 
monument" and Syn-Voykar "ethnic territory," with 
its special land-use status. Several more units are 
currently under planning or preparation, including 
the Taz Bay Fishery Preserve, Cydoyamovskiy State 
Nature Preserve (both in the Taz District), and Na- 
tional Park "Yuribey" in the central portion of the 
Yamal Peninsula, Yamal District. 

5. Galina Kharyuchi's husband, Sergei Niko- 
layevich Kharyuchi, is the president of the Associa- 
tion of Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, 
and the Russian Far East (RAIPON), and also the Chair- 
man of the Duma (local legislative body) of the Yamal- 
Nenets Area. 

6. Nevertheless, the proposed measures for 
protecting Nenets ritual monuments on Vaygach Is- 
land, and especially for development of limited tour- 
ism on the island, aroused alarm among the local 
residents and protests by the Yasavey Association, 
which represents the Native population of the Nenets 
Autonomous Okrug — ed. 

Balalaeva, Olga E. 

1999 Sviashchennye mesta khantov Nizhnei i 
Srednei Obi (Khanty Sacred Sites along the Middle 
and Lower Ob River). In Ocherki traditsionnogo 
prirodoporzovaniia khantov (Materialy k atlasu). A. 
Wiget, ed., pp. 1 40-56. Ekaterinburg. 

Boiarskii, Petr V., and A.A. Liutyi, eds. 

1 999 Ostrov Vaigach. Kheibidia ya - sviashchennyi 
ostrov nenetskogo naroda (Vaigach Island Khebidya 
ya - Sacred Island of the Nenets People). Cultural and 
Natural Heritage. Indexes, explanatory text to a map, 
reference data. Moscow: Russian Institute of Cultural 
and Natural Heritage. 

Boiarskii, Petr V., and V.P. Stoliarov, eds. 

2000 Ostrov Vaigach. Kul'tumoe iprirodnoe nasledie 
(Vaigach Island. Cultural and Natural Heritage). Vol. 1 . 
Moscow: Russian Institute of Cultural and Natural 

Fedorova, Natalia V. 

2000 Sem' let Yamal'skoi arkheologicheskoi 
ekspeditsii: proshlye rezul'taty i zadachi na 
budushchee (Seven Years of the Yamal Archaeologi- 
cal Expedition: Past Results and Tasks for the Fu- 
ture). Nauchnyi vestnik3A~] 2. Salekhard. 

Gemuev, Izmail N. 

1990 Mimvozzrenie man 'si: dom i kosmos (The Mansy 
Worldview: Home and Cosmos). Novosibirsk: Nauka 

Gemuev, Izmail N., and A.M. Sagalaev. 

1986 Religiia naroda man' si. Kul'tovye mesta (XIX- 
nachalo XX vv.) (Religion of the Mansi People. Sa- 
cred Sites, 1 9th Century and the Beginning of the 
20th Century). Novosibirsk: Nauka Publishers. 

Golovnev, Andrei V. 

2000 Put' k semi chumam (AJourney to Seven Tents). 

Drevnosti Yamaia 1 :208-36. Yekaterinburg and 

Kharyuchi, Galina, P. 

1 999a Traditsii i innovatsii v kul'ture nenetskogo etnosa 
(vtoraia polovina 20 v.) (Traditions and Innovations 
in the Ethnic Culture of the Nenets, Second Half of 
the 20th Century). Summary of the Ph.D. Disserta- 
tion. The author's abstract of a dissertation as a Can- 
didate of Historical Sciences. Tomsk: Tomsk Univer- 

1 999b Traditsii i innovatsii v kul'ture nenetskogo etnosa 
(vtoraia polovina 20 v.) (Traditions and Innovations 
in the Ethnic Culture of the Nenets, Second Half of 
the 20th Century). Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation 
manuscript. Appendix 3: List of Sacred sites of Gydan 
Peninsula. Salekhard: author's personal archive. 

2000 Nenetskie sviatilishcha i ikh klassifikatsiia 
(Nenets Sacred Sites and their Classification). Nauchnyi 
vestnik3.77-9. Salekhard. 

2001 Traditsii i innovatsii v kul'ture nenetskogo etnosa 
(vtoraia polovina 20 v.) (Traditions and Innovations 
in the Ethnic Culture of the Nenets, Second Half of 
the 20th Century). Tomsk: Tomsk University. 

2002a Zhertvennyi kompleks kul'tovykh mest (Sac- 
rificial Complex of (Native) Ritual Sites). Nauchnyi 
i/esm//cl 1:48- 5 I.Salekhard. 

2002b Kul'tovye mesta nentsev: sviashchennye land- 
shafty (Nenets Ritual Sites: Sacred Landscapes). In Sev- 
ernyi Arkheologicheskii Kongress: Tezisy dokladov, 
pp. 1 57-8. Yekaterinburg and Khanty-Mansiisk: Nauka. 

2003 Ob izuchenii nenetskikh sviatilishch (On the 
Study of Nenets Sacred Sites). In V Kongress 
etnografov i arkheologov Rossii. Tezisy dokladov. V. 
Tishkov, ed., pp. 315-6. Moscow: Institute of Eth- 
nology and Anthropology. 

Kharyuchi, Galina, and Lyudmila Lipatova 

1998 Traditional Beliefs, Sacred Sites, and Sacrifi- 
cial Rituals of the Nenets of Gydan Peninsula in the 


Modern Context. In The Archaeology and Anthropol- 
ogy of Landscape. Shaping Your Landscape, P.J. Ucko 
and R. Layotn, eds., pp. 284-97. One World Archaeol- 
ogy 30. London and New York: Routledge. 
Kharyuchi, Sergei N. 

1 998 The Necessity of Governmental Protection of 
Sacred Places and Ritual Sites of the Indigenous 
Peoples of the North. Paper presented at the 8th 
General Assembly of the Inuit Circumpolar Confer- 
ence. Nuukjuly 26, 1998. 

1 999 Sovremennye problemy korennykh narodov 
Severa (Doklady i vystupleniia ) (Contemporary Prob- 
lems of the Indigenous Peoples of the North. Re- 
ports and Public Presentations). Tomsk: Tomsk Uni- 

Kulemzin, Vladislav M. 

1995 Mirovozzrencheskie aspekty okhoty i 
rybolovstva (The Worldview Aspects of Hunting and 
Fishing) In Istoriia i kul'wra khantov, N.V. Lukina, ed., 
pp. 65-76. Tomsk: Tomsk University. 

Lar, Leonid I. 

1 995 Bogi i shamany nentsev lamala (Gods and Sha- 
mans of the Yamal Nenets). Narody Severo-Zapadnoi 
S/i'/n 2:1 61 -71 . Tomsk; Tomsk University. 

1999 Traditsionnoe religioznoe mirovozzrenie 
nentsev {Nenets Traditional Religious Worldview and 
Beliefs). Summary of the unpublished Ph.D. Disserta- 
tion. St. Petersburg: Peter the Great Museum of An- 
thropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera). 

2000 Sviashchennye mesta nentsev. In Problemy 
vzaimodeistviia cheloveka i prirodnoi sredy 1 :66-71 . 
Tyumen: Institute of the Problems of Northern De- 

Lekhtisalo, Toivo 

1998 Mifologiia iurako-samoiedov (nentsev) (My- 
thology of the Yurak Samoyed (Nenets). Trans- 

lated from German edition by N.V. Lukina. 
Tomsk: Tomsk University. 

2000 Rezolutsiia nauchno-prakticheskoi konferentsii 
po itogam polevykh arkheologicheskikh i 
etnograficheskikh issledovanii (Resolution of the Sci- 
entific and Applied Conference on Results of Field 
Archaeological and Ethnological Research). Nauchnyi 
i/esm;/c 3:94-5. Salekhard. 

Sbornik zakonov 

1998 Sbornik zakonov Yamalo-Nenetskogo okruga (s 
sentiabria / 995 g. po inn ' 1 998 g.) (Collection of Laws 
and Legal Documents of the Yamal-Nenets Autono- 
mous Area. From September 1995 through June 
1998). St. Petersburg: Publication of the State Duma 
of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area. 

1999 Sbornik zakonov Yamalo-Nenetskogo okruga 
(s sentiabria 1998 g. po dekabr' 1999 g.) (Collec- 
tion of Laws and Legal Documents of the Yamal- 
Nenets Autonomous Area. From September 1998 
through December 1999). St. Petersburg: Publica- 
tion of the State Duma of the Yamal-Nenets Au- 
tonomous Area. 

Toboliakov, V.T. 

1 930 K verkhoviiam ischeznuvshei reki (To the Up- 
per Reaches of a Disappearing River). Sverdlovsk. 

Veniyamin, Archimandrite (Smirnov) 

1855 Samoedy mezenskie (The Mezen Samoyed). 
Vestnik Russkogo Ceograficheskogo obshchestva 1 4. 
St. Petersburg. 

Zen'ko, Aleksei P. 

2000 Traditsionnaia dukhovnaia kul'tura iamal'skikh 
nentsev v sovremennykh usioviiakh (iz polevykh 
materialov) (Contemporary Status of the Yamal Nenets 
Traditional Spiritual Culture. From Field Observations). 
Nauchnyi vestnik 3:83-6. Salekhard. 




if T^radit) 

scapes or j raaition, 
Landscapes of Resistance 


Fifteen years ago, in mid-winter, I took a taxi ride from 
Bethel south to Napaskial<. The taxi left down the boat 
landing near the Alaska Commercial Company store in 
Bethel, drove up an intangibly marked ice road formed 
by the frozen Kuskokwim River, and ended by driving 
up a bluff into Napaskiak. Halfway through this ride I 
chanced to look south and was jolted by a panoramic 
view of a layered landscape. The greenish gray of the 
Kuskokwim ice, the off white snow on the river-banks, 
the nearly black vegetation on the tundra, and the light 
buff slice of the sky's horizon pushed down by gun- 
metal clouds are all indelible in my memory. I suspect 
that almost anyone from any culture would share the 
emotional impact of viewing similar landscapes with 
such layered contrasts (Fig. 54). 

It would be difficult to find a cultural heritage that 
views the rivers, streams, and mountains of their envi- 
ronment as a simple inanimate backdrop for biological 
processes and cultural activity. Admittedly, variation 
exists within any society. Many individuals in our soci- 
ety have a primarily instrumental view of the environ- 
ment, valuing natural resources primarily for their com- 
mercial potential (Fisher 2001 :264). Others have devel- 
oped a complex aesthetic with deep roots in our cul- 
tural history. In fact, many philosophers of environ- 
mental ethics imbue the landscape with picturesque, 
sublime, and scientific values (e.g. Carlson 2000). 

However, despite the widespread aesthetic experi- 
ences that bind us all to landscapes, there are diver- 
gent perspectives, resulting from differing cultural val- 
ues, that are contested in contemporary regulatory 

regimes that manage human relationships with their 
environment. This chapter describes conflicts between 
two different cultural resource management traditions, 
forced by history and circumstance, to occupy the 
same landscape. It will focus on Alaska and will con- 
trast indigenous perceptions and management regimes 
with those of Western government agencies. 

The concept of "landscape" has manifold interpre- 
tations. Mason (this volume) considers some of the 
definitions codified in the U.S. National Park Service 
(NPS) policy. For example, the NPS uses two generic, 
but not necessarily mutually exclusive, types of land- 
scape concepts— cultural and ethnographic landscapes. 
This chapter borrows from both in defining a landscape 
as a geographic area that includes cultural and natural 
resources. These landscapes can exhibit cultural and 
aesthetic values and can be associated with historic 
events or with traditionally associated people or other 
actors (e.g.. Western resource managers). In addition, 
our consideration of landscape attempts to understand 
the relationship between man and "animal,' as well as 
the spiritual and ethical connection these entities have 
with and in landscapes. While we do not attempt an 
exhaustive typology of landscapes, our working defi- 
nition includes the relationship of humans to geomor- 
phic features, biological domains, and other human 

Indigenous Alaskans' perceptions and experience 
of landscape contrast with the Western tradition of de- 
fining and managing landscapes. Both cultures' posi- 
tions are landscapes of tradition, albeit very different 

1 77 

traditions. The political reality that empowers the 
tradition of Western resource managers to make the 
rules creates the context for landscapes of resistance. 
In Alaska, as among indigenous groups throughout the 
world (cf. Cuha 1 990; Scott 1 985), a landscape of resis- 
tance is frequently characterized by a conscious fail- 
ure of Alaska Natives to comply with the regulations 
of Western management regimes. 

This chapter describes how indigenous communi- 
ties (liiupiaq, Yup'ik, and Athapaskan) name their land- 
scape, articulate their relationships to animals (animal/ 
persons), and express spiritual values and attitudes. Local 
cultural processes form the ethical and epistemologi- 
cal basis for landscape management. Our comparison 
of Native and non-Native values and attitudes concen- 
trates, perhaps unfairly, on non-Native resource manag- 
ers in government agencies. The competing views can 
be reconciled, not necessarily in the sense of concur- 
rence, but in the sense of an agreement to work to- 
gether, an accommodation generous enough to respect 
and encompass multiple views. While some may re- 
gard these overlapping areas of agreement to be an 
incomplete, perhaps even unsatisfactory compromise 
(Soule 1995), these partial areas of agreement do al- 
low for the maintenance and support of the underly- 
ing objectives that sustain both worldviews— the re- 
spect for and conservation of the natural resources that 
sustain us all. 

A major caveat is required here at the beginning of 
this narrative. Constraints on chapter size, coupled with 
a lack of comprehensive information, will by necessity 
force the offering of assertions and generalizations as 
if there is a homogenous ethnic and cultural attach- 
ment to landscape. It is essential to realize that values 
and attitudes vary not only between cultures but also 
within cultures. Gender, age, life experience, education, 
income, and "role" all influence perceptions, attitudes, 
and values about the landscape from an indigenous or 
Western perspective. 

One empirical study, to be described below, shows 
significant differences in knowledge, attachment to place 

and commodity, versus spiritual values of the land found 
in a sample of indigenous community residents, long- 
term non-Native residents of Alaska, and non-Native 
newcomers. Thus, while there are statistically signifi- 
cant differences in measures between cultures, there is 
also considerable variability among individuals within 
the same culture. 

Subsistence as more than an Economic 

It is helpful to briefly discuss the underlying political 
and legal structures that frame the "subsistence" issue 
in Alaska. The 1 980 Alaska National Interest Lands 
Consen/ation Act (ANILCA) provides the most impor- 
tant parts of that structure. Title VIII of ANILCA, Subsis- 
tence Management and Use, details the federal 
government's regulatory regime. Section 803 of Title 
VIII defines subsistence use as: 

[T]he customary and traditional use in Alaska 
of fish, wildlife and other renewable resources 
for direct personal or family consumption, for 
the making and selling of handicraft articles 
from the non-edible by-products of fish and 
wildlife taken for direct personal or family 
consumption and for customary trade, barter, 
or sharing for personal or family consump- 

This bureaucratic definition focuses on economic 
processes. Subsistence resources do provide suste- 
nance and are a major portion of the diet, especially 
in small communities where the costs of shipping 
store-bought foods are prohibitive. However, nu- 
merous research efforts show that from the (pre- 
dominantly Native) local actors' point of view, the 
harvest of subsistence resources does more than 
supply nutrition. 

Collective subsistence activities, whether gathering 
clams, processing fish at a fish camp, or seal hunting 
with a father or brother, often provide the most basic 
memories in an individual's life. These activities de- 
fine the sense of family and community. They teach 
how to identif/ and harvest resources and how to pro- 
cess them efficiently and without waste into a variety 


54/ Sunset on the Yukon River. 

of food items. Distribution of resources promotes the 
most basic values of Native and rural culture: generos- 
ity, respect for the knowledge of elders, self-esteem 
for a successful harvest, and public appreciation for 
sharing the harvest. No other set of activities provides 
a similar moral foundation for continuity between gen- 

Moreover, food preferences are the most conser- 
vative behaviors in any culture. The unique preparation 
and special taste of foods children encounter as they 
grow up stays with them forever. Years later, the taste 
and smell of certain foods evoke memories of family 
and belonging. The preservation of subsistence as a 
valued cultural activity depends on the continued trans- 
mission of knowledge about the landscape: where to 
find resources and how to ethically obtain them, pro- 
cess them, and share them with others. 

An Athapaskan Sense of Place 

Keith Basso, who has worked for many years with the 

Cibecue Apache', concludes that "Apache construc- 
tions of place reach deeply into other cultural spheres, 
including conceptions of wisdom, notions of morality, 
politeness and tact in forms of spoken discourse, and 
certain conventional ways of imagining and interpret- 
ing the Apache tribal past" (Basso 1996:xv). Similarly, 
Athapaskan groups in Alaska have distinct construc- 
tions of place. 


Howard Luke, an Athapaskan elder, is originally from 
the Tanana River town of Nenana. In 1937 he lived in 
the small community of Chena Village just southwest 
of the contemporary city of Fairbanks. Howard has writ- 
ten a book. My Own Trail (1 998), a personal history of 
his family and community in the Tanana Valley. It con- 
tains a map of place names and stories of the region. 
As William Schneider (1 998:1 00) writes in his Afterword, 

The map is also a natural history of old 
channels, good fishing eddies and Howard's 


record of changes in vegetation and animal 
populations. Glimpses and images from this 
historical spectrum are the subject of his 
stories and the setting for his lessons of how 
to take care of the land and water. 

About Toghoteelee, a hill just north of Nenana, Howard 
says, "If warm weather is coming they could tell, you 
could hear it on top of that hill. That used to be their 
weather report right there." With reference to the Chena 
River that runs through Fairbanks, he notes: 

Chena River used to be a wide river, high 
water, at one time. Water never did drop. We 
don't respect the water and that's the reason 
we're losing it. At that time people respect 
the water and water just stayed right there 
(Luke 1998:103). 

These examples provide a small sense of how place- 
names are more than mere geographical markers. Places 
provide information about or note changes in the en- 
vironment, changes that may be caused by failures in 
ethical behavior. Ray Barnhardt (1998:xii) observes: 

The Athabascan people, who have occupied 
the Interior region for well over 1 0,000 years, 
have developed a sense of place that is 
deeply rooted in cultural traditional and 
spiritual ties linked to the natural environ- 
ment on which they have always depended 
for their livelihood and their life. The hills, 
creeks, bogs, and sloughs that show up under 
English names on the (JSCS maps of the area, 
take on new names and significance when 
referred to in the stories by Athabascan 


The Dena'ina, Athapaskan speakers of the Cook Inlet 
region, live a couple of hundred miles south of 
Fairbanks and the Tanana River. The city of Anchor- 
age, with about a quarter of a million people (over half 
of Alaska's population) is located on Upper Cook In- 
let. Most of the territory described in the book, Shem 
Pete's Alaska: The Territory of the Upper Cook Inlet 
Dena'ina (Kari and Fall 1 987), is no longer used by the 
Dena'ina people. It is ironic that most Alaskans who 
live on a landscape of their own contemporary con- 
struction have little awareness of previous occupation 
or use. The book contains maps, stories, songs, and 

about 720 Native place- names. One of the authors, 
James Kari, notes that: 

The names and commentary presented here 
convey important information about the 
traditional economy, population centers, 
transportation, and beliefs of the Dena'ina . . . 
place names and the stories associated with 
geographic features are fine examples of the 
Dena'inas' rich and varied oral heritage. . . . 
Here, in the south-facing basin beneath the 
tallest mountains in North America, the 
Dena'ina can demonstrate that they have 
used virtually all lakes with food fisheries, all 
the major stream basins, all of the most 
accessible passes through the Alaska range, 
and all lands below 5,000 or 6,000 feet in 
elevation (Kari and Fall 1987:4). 

The last speakers of the Upper Cook Inlet dialect of 
Dena'ina learned place-names while traveling on the 
landscape or by hearing the oral traditions of their el- 
ders. The Dena'ina speakers reported the place-names 
with affection, noting their associations with ancestors 
and the land (Kari and Fall 1 987:29). The country Shem 
Pete knew covered about 26,500 square miles. 

The section below compares place-names from Shem 
Pete's Alaska with selected entries from Orth's Dictio- 
nary of Alaska Place Names (1 971 ). To facilitate com- 
parison between these two naming traditions the fol- 
lowing typology was developed, although it is not ex- 
haustive nor does it contain mutually exclusive taxa: 

—Place-names describing geological features; 

—Place-names associated with subsistence activi- 

—Place-names that mark an event that happened in 
the past; 

—Place-names indicating mineral deposits; 

—Place-names that act as trail guides or maps; 

—Places that reflect non-edible wildlife; 

—Place-names associated with spiritual aspects of 
the landscape; 

Kari (1 999) notes some underlying contrasts between 
the Athapaskan and Western naming conventions. For 
example, Athapaskans virtually never name places af- 
ter people. In addition, while no peak in the magnifi- 
cent Alaska Range lacks an English name, Athapaskan 


place-names dwindle in number as altitude increases 
because seldom-used areas are rarely given names. 
Athapaskan place-names define important use areas and 
provide an evocative topological index to their cul- 
tural history. For the sake of brevity we will illustrate 
the typology mentioned above with only one example 
(out of many) for each of the taxa. 

Place-names describing geological features 

~-Dena'ina(Shem Pete 1 987:41 ): Nadudiltnu Li'a, Gla- 
cier of River That Streams Join' [McArthur Glacier] 

—Western (Orth 1 971): Mushroom Reef (on Kodiak 
Island), named by USC&GC in 1 929 "because of the 
mushroom shape of the reef." [Note: Like other En- 
glish "mushroom" places this is more indicative of 
the shape of the structure rather than a guide to 
good eating.] 

Place-names associated with subsistence activities 

— Dena'ina (Shem Pete 1987:44): Ch'k'e'ula Betnu, 
'River Where We Chew Something (waterfowl)' 
[Chuitkilnachna Creek, prime waterfowl hunting area.] 

—Western: Orth (1971) lists no less than 35 "Fish 
Creeks" and 19 "Fish Lakes" in addition to 17 
"Salmon Creeks" across Alaska. 

However, many of those 'Fish Creeks' have little or no 
reference to fish or fishing, like the one on the Aleu- 
tian Islands that received an arbitrary name beginning 
with "F" to correspond to "F" grid by the U.S. Army for 
tactical purposes during World War II (as published on a 
1 954 Army Map Service map). 

Place-names that mark an event of the past 

—Dena'ina (Shem Pete 1 987:42) Tach'nach'ninchett, 
'Where Someone Put a Man's Head Underwater [south 
fork of Cottonwood Slough]. This name derives from a 
story about a fight between two men over a single fish. 

—Western (Orth, 1971): Murder Cove (Admiralty 
Island). Named in 1869 because "traders occa- 
sionally anchor here and one small party, while 
asleep on the beach, were murdered by natives, 
their boat rifled and bodies left to be destroyed 
by wild animals." 

Place-names indicating mineral deposits 

—Dena'ina (Shem Pete 1987: 128): Chish T'el'iht, 
'Where Ochre (cinnabar) is gathered,' [Three mile creek]. 

—Western (Orth 1971): Cinnabar Creek [SW of 
Sleetmute "stone people" "people of the whetstone 
people"]. Local name reported in 1944 by USGS; 
name derived from the deposits of cinnabar, a mer- 
cury ore, which were found there. 

Place-names that act as trail guides or maps 

— Dena'ina (Shem Pete 1987:41) Tubughnen 
Nuch'utdali, 'Let's go back to Tyonek.' A sled trail fol- 
lows this stream between Tyonek and the base of the 
Alaska Range. 

—Western (Orth 1 971 ): none 

A thorough perusal of Orth (1971) could not provide 
examples of Western "trail guide" place-names in Alaska, 
suggesting a major difference in the linguistic and con- 
ceptual construction of the landscape between indig- 
enous and Western actors. The contrast is illustrated 
by an oral history I conducted in spring of 1998 with 
Alex Tallekpaiek in Levelock, a Yup'ik-speaking com- 
munity on the Alaska Peninsula. Alex was a gracious 
host and out of many memories from that discussion 
two stand out: the seriousness of mind and purpose 
that is required to find, harvest, and consume food; and 
the absolute requirement to always know where you 
are. Alex, speaking of the training he received from his 
grandfather in the 1930s, constantly underscored the 
survival lessons of knowing where you are: 

Oh, I started from ten, when I was ten years 
old. He used to tell me to, 'You go ahead 
and go. I'll watch you while you go. And 
then give you help. I'll time you, see how far 
you travel. And make sure when you, when 
you go, you remember that tree over there. 
You mark it, and you go somewhere remem- 
ber that tree, that little hill, you mark that, 
too. That's your, your marker where you, 
where you travel. So when you come back, 
you, you know where, where you go. And 
steady your hand. Your mountains, your 
trees, your creeks and all that. He teach me 
all them things, you know. Every time you 
travel with dogs and come up on top of the 
hill, you stop. Look around. And you look 



where you came, your landmarks, don't 
forget. That creek you came across, don't 
forget that. ... I never did forget . . . but 
when we travel, oh, every time I travel with 
him he always tell me, 'Where are we now? 
Did you study your landmarks?' I [just say] 
'Oh yeah, I remember that little house, that 
creek right there.' 'You're right.' 

A couple of hundred miles northeast of Levelock, 
several Athapaskan groups— Koyukon, Lower Tanana, 
Upper Kuskokwim, Dena'ina and Ahtna— have shared 
boundaries in what is now Denali National Park. Karl's 
(1 999) work on place-names in this area identifies 1 650 
features from the five Alaska Native groups who used 
the park area. He describes numerous rule-driven fea- 
tures of Athapaskan place-names. In many names, pre- 
fixes and suffixes systematically orient the speaker's 
and the listener's positions on the landscape. A prefix 
might indicate the headwaters of a river, canyon, mouth 
of a stream, and so forth. Suffixes might indicate up- 
stream, downstream, or either bank. Karl shows how 
Athapaskan place-names, functioning as signs on a 
mental map, are vital for orientation in the band's large 
land use area. The names cluster around stream drain- 
age systems and a few prominent features (Kari 

Place-names that reflect non-edible wildlife 

— Dena'ina (Shem Pete 1987:284): Yuditnu 'Golden 
Eagle Creek, '[creek on north shore of Ekiutna Lake]. 
There were few entries in this category, for reasons 
that can only be speculated upon. First, the Dena'ina 
considered almost all animals to be edible. Ravens, 
eagles, coyotes, and wolves were all probably in the 
non-edible category. The absence of such names 
may represent a sampling artifact, reluctance to name 
features after creatures with great spiritual power, or 
simply disinterest in naming features after animals 
with little utility. 

—Western (Orth 1971): Eagle Bluff [near Eagle, 
Alaska]. Local name given in the late 1 890s; so 
named because of eagles nesting there (Henning, 

1 82 

Place-names associated with spiritual aspects of the 

The spiritual aspects of landscape reside most 
uniquely with individual cultural values and attributes. 
This section amplifies the concepts of Dena'ina place- 
names with material from the Han, an Athapaskan group 
now residing north of Alaska's second largest metro- 
politan area, Fairbanks. Interestingly, Athapaskan place- 
names that reflect spiritual aspects of landscape can be 
readily found in the literature, but this category of place- 
names is substantially underrepresented in Western land- 
scapes. While spiritual construction of the landscape, 
through concepts of wilderness or sacred ground (e.g., 
battlefields, cemeteries, and memorials), can be 
found in the histories of various landscapes, they 
are not easily obtainable from the Western place- 
name vernacular. 

—Dena'ina (Shem Pete 1 987:57): Ch'chihiKen, 'Ridge 
Where We Cry, [sloping ridge south of Mt. Susitna]: 

That big ridge going downriver from 
Dghelishia [Mount Suisan] all the way to 
Beluga, they call Ch'chihi Ken. They 
would sit down there. Everything is in 
view. They can see their whole country. 
Everything is just right under them. They 
think about their brothers and their fathers 
and mothers. They remember that, and 
they just sit down there and cry. That's the 
place we cry all the time, 'cause every- 
thing just show up plain (Kari and Kari 

—Han (Mishlerand Simeone 2004): Eagle Bluff, near 
the village of Eagle (Fig. 55) is known to Han as 
Tthee Tawdlenn or "water hitting right in to it." 

In contrast to Western painterly or scientific values the 
Han, who live on the upper reaches of the Yukon River, 
view the landscape as animated with spiritual presence. 
Mishler and Simeone (2004:36) explain that this name 
conveys more than a physiographic description. Sarah 
Malcolm, a Han woman, recalled that the chief "always 
said lots of things about the bluff," especially in 
speeches; he would even say he was chief of Eagle 
Bluff. The authors speculate that these recollections fit 
into a common Athapaskan practice where established 


55/ Eagle Bluff, known to the Han as "Water hitting right in to it. " 

settlements are associated with hills that are named 
and honored in potlatch songs and oratory as 
"grandfather's face": 

As dominant features on the landscape, 
these hills were symbolic of the strength 
and wisdom of the old chiefs or leaders. 
The people were said to live beneath or 
under these hills as they would live under 
the guidance of a strong and moral 
leader. The hill, like a good leader, is there 
to stand as an example or reminder to 
people of how they should conduct their 
lives (De Laguna 1 975:91). 

—Western (Orth, 1971): A Western sense of the 
metaphysical nature of place is conveyed by Lonely 
Lake, in the Brooks Range, so named in 1 966 by 
Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert F. Staender because when they 
set up a base camp at this lake they were com- 
pletely isolated. 

No Athapaskan place-name that I have come across 
provides a sense of abandonment or isolation. This 
difference between being on and being of the land- 
scape is nicely illustrated in Desperation Lake, a place- 


name in the Brooks Range Orth obtained in 1 956. Orth 
thought wolf hunters probably named it in the 1940s. 
In contrast, the Inupiaq (Eskimo) name for the same 
place is Tupichalik, meaning "new tent" in reference to 
camping along the lake's dry gravel beach. 

Non-Indigenous Spiritual Views of the 

Cemeteries, battlefields, and memorials all have sig- 
nificance as sacred and spiritual landscapes in Ameri- 
can culture. We all have memories of locations vis- 
ited on family vacation and the places where we 
grew up may have special and perhaps spiritual 
importance. In addition, farm families may have a 
strong spiritual connection to the landscape they 
have tilled for generations. 

Of course, it is no surprise that America, the bench- 
mark of world capitalism, has numerous commodity 
values for American landscapes. In addition, from cer- 
tain perspectives even spiritual values may be cyni- 

1 83 

cally regarded as being thinly disguised commodity 
"fetishes." For non-Native New Age spiritualists, the land 
resonates with newfound animism that some view with 
skepticism (Lippard 1997:147). One Western spiritual 
view of the landscape, however, has a direct feed into 
landscapes of resistance: wilderness. 


Ansel Adams' photographs present a closely cropped 
view of landscape as the sublime.' For some, the beau- 
ties of landscapes represent "the last trace of the reli- 
gious experience left in materialistic America." Cussim 
and Lindquist-Cock 1 988, quoted in Lippard 1 997:1 79). 
One might suspect that for wilderness advocates 
Ansel Adams pictures capture, in a visual form, those 
transcendental qualities of landscape often encountered 
in the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir. As Callicott 

The first notable American thinkers to insist, a 
century and a half ago, that wild nature might 
serve "higher" human spiritual values as well 
as supply raw materials for meeting our more 
mundane physical needs. Nature can be a 
temple Emerson (1 989) enthused, in which to 
draw near and to commune with God. Too 
much civilized refinement, Thoreau argued, 
can over-ripen the human spirit; ... [building 
on their philosophy]. John Muir (1901) 
spearheaded a national, morally charged 
campaign for public appreciation and preser- 
vation of wilderness. People going to forest 
groves, mountain scenery, and meandering 
streams for religious transcendence, aesthetic 
contemplation, and healing rest (1 998:340). 

Whatever its etiology, it seems reasonable to consider 
this construction of the wilderness landscape as having 
spiritual underpinnings. 

One problem with the currently received view of 
wilderness is its ethnocentrism; it ignores the presence 
of indigenous people (Callicott 1998:348). Some crit- 
ics of wilderness consider the idea "museumized na- 
ture" (Talbot 1 998). From another point of view, imple- 
mentation of the wilderness ideal displaces indigenous 
people from rezoned "wilderness areas" or restricts their 
access to resources in such areas (Guha in Callicott 

1 84 

1 998). A subtler outcome of excluding humans from 
the landscape, but perhaps more devastating in the long 
run, is the alienation of local people who can be crucial 
to the conservation process. Their exclusion, if their 
situation is desperate enough, can lead to resistance 
as they actively poach "protected" resources (Talbot 

Although the situation has not reached an impasse 
in Alaska, there is considerable potential for conflict. 
The federal government manages nearly two-thirds of 
all lands while Native entities now occupy only about 
ten percent of their former land base. Lands controlled 
by indigenous entities now represent less than two- 
thirds of all the wilderness acreage in Alaska (Tables 
2 and 3). 

Thus, there is a palpable tension as to what are the 
attributes of a "wilderness landscape" in Alaska. Con- 
siderable finesse is required of land managers as they 
seek a compromise between the wilderness advocates' 
and local communities' concepts of spirituality and the 
landscape. Wilderness advocates are especially con- 
cerned about the potential aesthetic impacts to the land- 
scape from the technologies (e.g., all terrain vehicles, 
or ATVs) rural residents use as they harvest wildlife 
resources (Fig. 56). 

The National Park Service, ATVs, and "Natural" 

Most of the Alaska wilderness areas designated 
by ANILCA provide for continued access for rural 

The Secretary shall ensure that rural residents 
engaged in subsistence uses shall have 
reasonable access to subsistence resources 
on the public lands. (Section 81 1(a) of 
ANILCA). . . .The Secretary shall permit on the 
public lands appropriate use for subsistence 
purposes of snowmobiles, motorboats, and 
other means of surface transportation tradi- 
tionally employed for such purposes by local 
residents, subject to reasonable regulation. 
(Section 81 1(b) of ANILCA) 

The section-by-section analysis of the title further 


56/ An ATV trail through a meadow in bloom. 
Table 2/ Ownership of Land in Alaska 




Bureau of Land Management 


Fish & Wildlife Service 


National Park Service 


Forest Service 


Department of Defense and 

other Federal lands 


State of Alaska 


Native corporations 


Other Private Lands 


Total acreage in Alaska 


amplifies the intent of the phrases "other means of 
surface transportation" and "traditionally employed" 
to include the 

[U]se of new, as yet unidentified means of 
surface transportation, so long as such 
means are subject to reasonable regulation 
necessary to prevent waste or damage to 
fish, wildlife or terrain (ANILCA Chapter 

The National Park Service may apply additional restric- 

Table 3/ Alaskan "Wilderness" Status Land 

% OF 







Fish & Wildlife Service 



National Park Service 



Forest Service 





tions with respect to access to its lands. Only speci- 
fied "resident zone communities" or residents with spe- 
cial permits are allowed to harvest park resources. The 
designations are usually liberal enough to incorporate 
most of the active hunters. The NPS may also restrict 
the types of technology used to harvest subsistence 

ATVs are an efficient and convenient form of trans- 
portation for harvesting resources, but they can also 
create trails of denuded vegetation. Those trails pro- 
vide little threat to conservation of nature resources. 
However, with respect to aesthetics— and being un- 


miles 40 

57/ Noatak Shaded Relief and Hydrology, with the 
imposed boundaries of the Cape Krusenstern National 
Monument. Western land managers often draw bound- 
aries across watersheds and other geomorphic fea- 
tures. These boundaries may have little overlap with 
traditional land use. 

questionable evidence of man's presence— they can 
create considerable conflicts about what a land- 
scape can or should contain. 

The trails are anathema to Western visitors who 
want to have a "wilderness" experience in a national 
park. To traditional subsistence users, who consider 
themselves participants in the landscape, the trails are 
a small price for doing business. Although subsistence 
users evince discomfort when the issue is formulated 
in the context of respect for the land, their misgivings 
are usually set aside when balanced against 
practicalities. In essence, as one man noted, "We are 
not going back to carrying these loads out by foot." 

This is especially true in the contemporary context 
where people live in sedentary communities and the 
distances involved are much greater. Seasonal camps 
once located near available resources no longer exist. 
Nor are subsistence users much swayed by preserva- 
tionist arguments, for in many cases their extensive 
current use of ATVs is occasioned by sports hunting 
pressures on local resources that were formerly ob- 
tained adjacent to their home use area. Most local 
hunters would be happy for shorter ATV trips if the 

1 86 

resources could be obtained nearby. 

Neither side condones damage to the landscape, 
although one side views humans and their technology 
as an impairment of the landscape's spiritual qualities 
while the other sees humans (and their pragmatic use 
of efficient harvest technology) as an integral part of 
the spiritual landscape. Part of this conflict lies in the 
divergent perspectives both sides have on human-ani- 
mal interactions. Wilderness advocates assume that land 
managers need to prevent human interference with the 
"natural" animal populations. In fact, the total exclu- 
sion of a human presence is illogical, illegal, and im- 

It is illogical because most wilderness advocates 
are themselves at least temporary consumers of the 
wilderness landscape. It is illegal in that ANILCA guar- 
antees reasonable access to these lands for subsistence 
purposes, effectively modifying the Wilderness Act in 
Alaska's wilderness areas. Finally, it is impractical be- 
cause wilderness areas are not islands. Caribou migrate 
on and off such designated areas, and most bird spe- 
cies in these areas are neotropical migrants who leave 
for the winter. Pollution, climate change, and the inva- 
sion of exotic species are all impacts on wilderness 
areas. In the absence and perhaps impossibility of strong 
enforcement, local communities resist the imposition 
of outside management in a variety of ways. Much of 
what Western land management personnel perceive as 
resource management is really management of a vir- 
tual landscape. 

Geographic Information Systems (CIS), a 
Western "Resource" Management Tool 

Federal and state land managers in Alaska use a variety 
of tools in their regulatory process. The tools structure 
and constrain how they perceive Alaska landscapes. In 
this chapter landscape is loosely defined to include 
physical features, biological populations (flora and 
fauna), and the cultural definitions of the relationships 
between the physical, biological and human. Interest- 
ingly, indigenous perspectives often truncate this ty- 


pology by not drawing a distinction between animals 
(or even geological features) and consciousness. Thus, 
animals are aggregated with the social, sentient deci- 
sions often relegated only to humans in the Western 

In contrast, federal and state land managers sepa- 
rate landscape components into geological, biologi- 
cal, and cultural components. This disaggregation can 
be illustrated by considering the CIS themes used by 
land managers in Alaska. These layers include topog- 
raphy (Fig. 57), river and stream systems, roads, bound- 
aries of conservation units (Fig. 58), boundaries of game 
management units, vegetation maps, and ecozones. 

For some regions of Alaska, social and cultural 
information is also plotted using CIS technology, 
e.g., community traditional harvest areas for a vari- 
ety of species (e.g., moose, caribou, bear, fish, ber- 
ries), or use areas during different time periods. Such 
information is critical for documenting customary 
and traditional uses for eligibility and access deci- 
sions. Despite the tremendous amount of informa- 
tion that CIS can convey, traditional indigenous views 
of the landscape are only weakly reflected in use 
area and place name data (Fig. 59). Instead, the data 
is abstracted and transformed to meet the decision 
context, comfort levels, and expectations of Western 

land managers . One kind of information that westerners 
often overlook is the indigenous values related to ani- 
mals and animal-persons. 

The Yup'ik Landscape of Human— "Animal- 
person" Relationships 

Central to indigenous traditional views of the land- 
scape is the issue of human relationships with the re- 
sources they depend upon. Some of the best descrip- 
tions of these values come from the Yup'ik speakers 
ofthe Yukon/Kuskokwim region of West Alaska (Fienup- 
Riordan 1990). Yup'ik cultural values prescribe the 
proper treatment of "animal-persons" and the conse- 
quences of violating these rules. Animal souls are infi- 
nite, and what humans' harvest are only their "clothes." 
In fact many Yup'ik believe that when animal-persons 
offer themselves in great numbers, it is clear that hu- 
mans are fulfilling their side ofthe bargain by showing 
respect. The Yup'ik belief that there is no relationship 
between a decline in an animal population and over- 
harvesting is in dramatic contrast with Western con- 
cepts of game management. 

In fact many Yup'ik hunters face a difficult decision 
when they come across any animal (Morrow and Hensel 
1 992:40). A Yup'ik hunter who is out looking for cari- 
bou, but comes across an older male moose out of 
season is required by Yup'ik 
belief to harvest that animal. 
Failure to avail oneself ofthe 
gift presented is a profound 

Deenng Canbou 
I I Game Mngm: units. Subunits 

Inuptaq Place Names 
Gen. Land Status- Owners 
miip Private 
[Z3 ^^^^^ 
Eiv] Native 

Slate & Native 
[''"71 Major Military 
["' ' 'j National Park Service 
[v^ U.S. Fish 8, vviidtite Service 
gggg Wild & Scenic Rivers 

U.S. Forest Service 
^iJ^tfi Bureau of Land Management 

58/ Present-day land-sta- 
tus owners, Seward Penin- 
sula, Alaska. Traditional 
subsistence users are con- 
fronted with a bewildering 
variety of land statuses, 
each with their own regu- 
latory framework. For ex- 
ample, the community of 
Deering's traditional cari- 
bou harvest area now ex- 
tends across federal, state, 
and Native lands. 


mark of disrespect that will be noted by the animal- 
person and communicated to other animal-persons. 
It may lead to the unavailability of that species in the 
future. Thus, under Western precepts, to harvest the 
moose is to put pressure on the moose population 
and ensure its continual decline. Under traditional Yup'ik 
precepts, failure to harvest the moose leads to the 
same outcome. 

Yup'ik are also taught that if they "play" with fish, 
the fish will not return the following year. These be- 
liefs have led to serious friction with catch-and-release 
fishermen. By the Western conservation model, catch- 
and-release fishing ensures the survival of the fish 
stocks. Local Yup'ik believe that this disrespectful prac- 
tice will lead to the eventual disappearance of the fish, 
after the fish tell their relatives how they were treated 
and discourage them from making the same journey. 

Traditional Yup'ik elders believe that the more you 
harvest, the more that will return. However, the pre- 

• CRNA- Ahtna Place Names (point) 

• Towns 

/V Roads 

Ferry, auto 
V Rivers 


Park Boundary 

im Park & Wilderness 

Preserve & Wilderness 
Canada Coast 

cept to harvest resources that present themselves is 
overridden by a stronger sanction: harvest no more 
than you need. One must exhibit respectful behavior 
after the ultimate gift is bestowed, but checks and 
balances are also present in the Yup'ik traditional man- 
agement regime. Thus, the hunter who comes across 
a moose, mentioned in the example above, would not 
harvest the moose if he felt the meat would go to 

Fienup-Riordan's (1990) depiction of the Yup'ik 
worldview presents a problem of idealization and com- 
pression of these dynamic beliefs. In one household 
that I talked with in the Yukon/Kuskokwim region of 
Alaska, the senior members held (in the main) to tradi- 
tional values, the middle-aged and younger adults re- 
spected but did not necessarily practice them or agree 
with them, and the teenagers and younger members 
hardly reflected upon them. 

To avoid generalizing one set of values and beliefs 
about the landscape to a 
whole community, we turn 
to the results of a formal 
social science survey with 
a large sample, controlling 
for differences in age, gen- 
der, ethnicity, and some 
facets of personal history. 
Such an empirical and rep- 
resentative picture of 
peoples' behaviors and val- 
ues, while less in depth, suf- 
fers less from idealization 

59/ Ahtna Place-Names 
Each black dot represents 
an Ahtna place name, and 
black dots in park-shaded 
areas indicates the tradi- 
tional use of park re- 
sources. CIS projections 
such as this are used in the 
regulatory process as evi- 
dence in decisions that 
grant eligibility to conduct 
subsistence activities on 
park lands. 


and compression. 

Knowledge of the Environment 

A multi-method research methodology designed to 
study the social and cultural impacts of the Exxon 
Valdez oil spill (EVOS) involved interviewing 2,728 resi- 
dents of communities in the Gulf of Alaska/ This re- 
search indicated that personal, psychological, and com- 
munity impacts resulting from the EVOS varied dra- 
matically with the values imputed to the landscape. 
And while these values cannot simply be ex- 
plained by Native/non-Native differences, it is 
clear that significant differences in degree occur 
between these groups. Jorgensen's (1995) analy- 
sis of the consequences of the EVOS demonstrates 
that Natives' and non-Natives' ideas, sentiments, 
and acts were organized quite differently concern- 
ing environmental and other ethics. These differ- 
ences had an important effect on how the out- 
comes of the spill were perceived. Jorgensen (1 995) 
notes that in the same environment Natives know 
more about wildlife resources than non-Natives; 
that Natives more frequently identify spiritual val- 
ues rather than commodity values as the preemi- 
nent attribute of the environment (Table 4); and 
that Natives more frequently report that places in 
the environment have special meanings for them 
and their relatives (Table 5). 

Sixty-nine percent of the 388 key informants in the 
EVOS survey were non-Native and thirty-one percent 
were Native. Each was asked to identify seventy-seven 
natural resources (including marine and land mammals, 
fish, marine invertebrates, birds, and plants) in the areas 
that person used. Researchers asked which species were 
available locally in sufficient numbers. Ninety-five per- 
cent of Natives responded to all seventy-seven ques- 
tions about resource sufficiency, but not one non-Na- 
tive responded to all seventy-seven questions. 

The survey research results clearly showed that 
nearly half the Native respondents viewed the land- 
scape as possessing only spiritual values whereas less 

than six percent of non-Natives felt the same way (Table 
4). When these findings were presented to a Yukon/ 
Kuskokwim elder and spokesman, he indicated that in 
his region three-quarters, not half, of respondents would 
assert only spiritual and no commodity values to the 
landscape. His assertion is based on the perceptive 
insight that indigenous communities in the EVOS re- 
gion have a longer history of repression of traditional 
values and the forced introduction of other behaviors 
—e.g., commercial fur harvests. 

Another question asked whether the respondent had 
memories about special places in his area. As Table 5 
shows, both Natives and non-Natives have strong sym- 
bolic attachments to the landscape, but Natives accu- 
mulate many more such symbols. Jorgensen's multi- 
variate analysis seems to indicate that long-term non- 
Native residents and high-income Native residents 
seemed to have borrowed more heavily from the other 
culture's repertoire. 

Landscapes of Resistance 

Both Cuha (1 990) and Scott (1 985) have used the phrase 
"landscapes of resistance" in the context of indigenous 
resistance to exploitation and management of their tra- 
ditional resources. Cuha, writing about peasant resis- 
tance in the Himalayas, believes that interpersonal re- 
lationships and the organization of economic activi- 
ties are intimately linked to the ecological attributes 
of the landscape— plants, animals, topography, climate, 
and habitat. He hypothesizes that as ecosystems change, 
social and production relationships will also change. 
In Cuba's account colonial powers forced concepts of 
individual land ownership to replace the communally 
oriented land tenure practices of local inhabitants. In- 
digenous communities who were denied access to for- 
est resources responded with a variety of forms of re- 
sistance, including labor slowdowns, destroying com- 
mercial stockpiles, and ignoring a variety of regula- 
tions. Largely because of the resistance, the Western 
forestry principle of "sustained yield," a continuous prof- 
itable harvest of forest products, was never achieved. 


After Indian independence from Great Britain, Guha 
documents how these historical underpinnings gave 
rise to the Chipko (Hugging the Trees) movement, which 
in 1 980 forced the Indian government to agree to a 
fifteen year ban on commercial forestry in the area. 
The Chipko movement also inspired many other indig- 
enous communities to resist large dam projects and 
commercial use of forests throughout the world. 

Guha concludes that an indigenous ideology (like 
Chipko) that articulates a traditional view of the land- 
scape can forestall commodity uses of natural resources. 
In addition, any outside interest (commodity or con- 
servation driven) that fails to take into account the 
"moral economy" of traditional landscapes (and the 
traditional rights embedded in such landscapes) are 
also bound to fail. 

In Alaska, traditional views of the landscape— in- 
cluding knowledge of place, communal use of resources, 
ethical tenets as to the reciprocal nature of human/ 
animal relationships, and the spiritual sense of topog- 
raphy—have been challenged by a dominant outside 
perspective that claimed power to manage and inter- 
pret the landscape. This outside perspective saw the 
land as property and "animal-persons" as commodities 
lacking sentience. The dominant culture that did im- 
pute spiritual attributes to the landscape thus excluded 
humans as a feature. These opposing perspectives led 
to local resistance to Western management practices. 

In my research experience in more than fifty rural 
Alaska communities, I have always been struck by the 
contrast between the formal regulatory regime of West- 
ern land managing agencies and actual behavior evinced 
by local communities. Western managers depend on 
seasons (when a species may be harvested) and bag 
limits (how many and what type, e.g., young males only) 
to accomplish their conservation goals. These man- 
agement procedures rely on the willing compliance of 
local communities or an effective threat of law en- 
forcement. For example. Morrow and Hensel note that: 

Enforcement of waterfowl hunting laws has 
always been sporadic, with local resistance 

Table 4/ Spiritual vs Commodity Values Associated 
with the Environment (from Jorgensen 1998:95) 



Table 5/ Special Meanings Associated with the Envi- 
ronment (from Jorgensen 1998:94) 


1 . None 4 7 

2. A Few 24 44 

3. Many 28 44 

4. Many, which have 44 5 
accumulated over two 

or more generations 

sometimes effectively thwarting agents' 
efforts. The most famous incident was the 
Barrow Duck-In of 1961. When several native 
men including a state legislator were arrested 
for spring bird hunting [banned by regulation 
at that time - D.C.] 300 Inupiat (1 38 of them 

holding dead eider ducks which they claimed 
were taken illegally), gathered in the commu- 
nity hall (Chance 1990:146-47). Faced with 
arresting much of the community, enforce- 
ment agents backed down. 

Yupiit remember past repression [by law 
enforcement officers that fine individual 
hunters and confiscate subsistence technol- 
ogy - D.C.] and are discreet about swan 
harvesting. The legacy of repression is also 
kept alive in a large repertoire of told 
narratives about acts of "civil disobedience" 
such as armed stand-offs with authorities. One 
ubiquitous story concerns shooting holes in 
the floats of a Fish and Wildlife sea-plane so 
that it is unable to land and arrest offenders 

1 . The environment, or 31 
features of it (rivers, forests, 

coal seams, oil deposits, fish, 
sea mammals, etc.) are viewed 
as commodities, that is, items 
whose values are established 
in the marketplace and are 
available for purchase or sale. 

2. Combination of commodity 54 60 
and spiritual views. 

3. The environment, or features 46 6 
of it, are viewed as being 

endowedwith spirits to which 
significant cutural symbols are 
attached (e.g., helpfulness). 
Thegeneral environment is not 
conceptualized as a commodity. 








June [July 



Nov. pec. 


■ ■ 






Beaver and Muskrat 

Pike and Whitefish 


Ptarmigan and Grouse 

Fur Trapping 

Traditional Tetlin Harvest Cycle 

Contemporary Tetlin Harvest Cycle 

60/ Contemporary and Historic Annual Cycle for the Community of Tetlin, Alaska. This graph shows that traditional 
times of harvest for a variety of species in historic time (shaded area) has an imperfect overlap with the regulatory 
seasons of the contemporary Western management regime (Halpin 1 987:31 ; Guedon 1974:43, 45). Note: Sheep 
are not included in the contempory annual cycle regulations. 

(with disabled floats, the agents can only fly 
home, since they must beach the plane after 
a single landing). Such tales are told with 
pride and humor in the vein of "Robin Hood 
vs. the Sheriff's men." (1992:44) 

The Western regulatory regime requires valid and rep- 
resentative data on the status of wildlife stocks and 
the current harvest levels of those stocks. To establish 
bag limits, biologists estimate the current population 
and then, using a variety of statistical models, deter- 
mine some level of sustainable harvest. However, the 
underlying data supports for both these processes are 
often questionable. The lack of reliable resource popu- 
lation data is compounded by the fact that self-re- 
porting mechanisms for harvest levels are also unreli- 
able. When anthropologists collect harvest information 
in face-to-face interviews, under promise of anonym- 
ity, and compare these results with reported tag and 
permit data, actual harvest levels are often ten times 
higher than the official estimates. 

As will be detailed below, official seasons, espe- 
cially in areas away from road-connected communi- 
ties, are followed insofar as they overlap with tradi- 
tional behaviors. Usually, employing the efficiencies re- 
quired of subsistence pursuits, animals are harvested 
when they are available (or when they present them- 
selves) and in quantities linked to need and processing 
capabilities and not to an existing bag limit (Fig. 60). 

Federal and state regulatory structures are the prin- 
cipal connection between local hunters and govern- 
ment land managers. Regulations concerning bag lim- 
its, seasons, and harvest reporting are the primary means 
by which land managers and their biologist advisors 
seek to conserve and manage wildlife populations. 
Spaeder et al. (2001) document a history of consider- 
able conflict between customary practice and gov- 
ernment regulation in Northwest Alaska. They show 
that throughout this history a significant number of 
regulations were incompatible with traditional prac- 
tices; despite the fact the traditional practices were 
non-wasteful and posed no threat to the conserva- 
tion of the resource. The wildlife regulations applied 
to Alaska Native hunters were inappropriately im- 
ported from another context where they were used 
to regulate sport hunters. 

A brief example (drawn from Moore 1 984: 1 0) illus- 
trates the illogic and the impracticality of game regu- 
lations in the face of customary and traditional views 
and behaviors. Only twice a year, for a short period, do 
caribou migrations normally bring animals within range 
of a local village (Fig. 61). During the spring migration 
the animals have little body fat left after the long win- 
ter and are considered undesirable by local hunters. If 
the official harvest season for caribou does not coin- 
cide with the fall migration (when the animals are in 



prime shape for harvesting) then that community, which 
may derive half its nutrition from caribou, is out of luck. 
Naturally, under these circumstances the community 
ignores the seasonal restrictions. 

Hunters from rural communities actually see the 
caribou on the landscape and note its availability and 
condition. Western perspectives of the landscape do 
not see the tundra or the caribou; they see a stochastic 
model that they believe allows them to predict and 
conserve the ongoing caribou population. Currently 
(since the herd now numbers 500,000) seasonal restric- 
tions are liberal but bag limits could become a source 
of conflict. Bag limits are fifteen caribou per day. How- 
ever, caribou are usually at some distance from a com- 
munity, and it is expensive to locate and transport the 
harvested animals. Customarily hunters take what they 
need for their household and to redistribute in the com- 
munity. Thus, when they chance upon a herd they may 
take twenty to forty animals and return to the commu- 
nity immediately to prevent spoilage. Although they 
could take a hundred animals in a week without any 
impact on the health of the herd, they can only legally 
take fifteen animals per day. Because such a restriction 
is completely impractical given their circumstances, they 
violate bag limits by taking what they need when the 
animals are available. 

A number of potential violations are created in this 
harvest scenario. It violates game laws to give away 
harvested meat, completely in contradiction to tradi- 
tional values that demand hunters redistribute and share 
their harvest with their extended family, elders and com- 
munity members in need. Nor can extended family 
members pay for the gas used by the hunter without 
committing a violation. Almost none of the few hunt- 
ers who obtain a hunting license actually carry it with 
them. Customary practices such as driving animals to- 
ward awaiting (and hidden) hunter are illegal. Few hunters 
send in harvest reports. It is not surprising that a hunter 
ignores, resists, and resents Western management regu- 
lations when his traditionally efficient practices may 
net him thirty citations on any given hunt. These cita- 

1 92 

tions can result in the confiscation of his snowmachine, 
his rifle, and hunting equipment and several hundred 
dollars in fines. 

Although only a limited number of pages apply to 
any specific community, villagers rarely read the state 
(1 12 pages) or the federal (172 pages) booklets on 
game regulations. Many villagers are unaware that com- 
mon sense practices such as shooting beaver (they 
can only be trapped under current regulations) or chasing 
game with a snowmachine violate the law. A survey 
of twenty-seven Kiana residents concluded that no 
one in the community, except the Alaska Department 
of Fish and Game (ADFG) license vendors, understood 
the hunting and trapping regulations (Regulation Re- 
view 1 989:22). In another study, a Kotzebue resident 
said; "Local people have a hard time sifting out the 
important regulations from the unimportant ones" 
(Spaeder et al. 2001 :33). The large number of regula- 
tions, a lack of English language or reading skills, and 
the fact that regulations are rarely enforced by either 
state or federal officials provide little incentive for tra- 
ditional hunters to learn or follow game regulations. 
Compliance with Western management regimes most 
often occurs when regulations are consistent with cus- 
tomary practice. 

Non-compliance also has the potential for serious 
friction in the community, as newcomers, such as non- 
Native teachers, have reported season or bag limit vio- 
lations. However, for many younger subsistence hunt- 
ers, non-compliance has become a norm and signifies, 
among other things, a resistance to outside attempts to 
control their perceptions of traditional landscapes. A 
number of analysts have suggested self-regulation and 
local enforcement as a possible solution to this con- 
flict. Several Kiana residents called for a revitalization 
of traditional elder-based authority entities. In a sense 
land managers would have to delegate some of their 
authority to allow misdemeanor violations to be heard 
and ruled on by local leaders. One Kiana respondent 
who advocated this approach stated, "I would rather 
face the game warden than the elders if I wasted 


61/ Alaska Native caribou Inunt. 

game (Spaeder et al. 2001:39). This solution omits 
any mention of the Western management practices 
of seasons, bag limits, or reporting requirements, and 
instead focuses on violations committed against a 
shared view of the traditional landscape (i.e., the 
overarching prohibition on waste). In an important 
sense, this commitment to avoid waste is at the heart 
of all conservation efforts, Western or traditional, al- 
though it may have little to recommend it to many 
wilderness advocates. 

Landscapes Reduced to Biological Models 

The literature on statistical modeling of biological (and 
geological) processes is enormous. We focus on the 
models provided by biologists and ecologists because 
it is their advice that land managers seek in construct- 
ing resource management plans. Biologists often, but 
not exclusively, base their advice on the outcomes of 
their modeling efforts. One form of statistical model is 
termed "density dependent." As Pimm (1991:359) 

notes, "Perhaps no other topic dominates traditional 
population ecology more than does the discussion of 
whether density changes are density dependent."" 

Two simple examples will illustrate the uses of this 
type of statistical model. The first comes from a debate 
begun in the 1940s about modeling halibut popula- 
tions. Essentially one side believes that changes in 
population density can be solely ascribed to fishing 
pressures. In this density dependent model, the num- 
ber of halibut recruited each year to the halibut popu- 
lation is directly related to how many halibut fisher- 
men catch. From a management perspective, decreas- 
ing the catch will increase the halibut population. 
Burkenroad's competing "density independent" model 
states that for any particular year fishing pressures play 
only a small part in halibut recruitment and that the 
major impact on the increase or decrease in halibut 
numbers is due to "climate forcing." Climate forcing 
links changes in the ecosystem to variation in ocean 
currents and water temperature (Hare n.d.). These 


62/ Mentasta Caribou Herd Density Dependent Model. 
A density dependent model comparing actual harvest 
with simulated harvest levels that would have occurred 
had the cooperative management protocol been in 
force at that time. 

changes range from annual or seasonal, interannual (El 
Nino) to interdecadal (Pacific Decadal Oscillation). Re- 
cent evidence suggests that decade-long oscillations 
in temperature are related to zooplankton biomass 
bloom (i.e. increases in the amount of zooplankton 
available) that may, in turn, increase halibut larvae sur- 
vival as larvae and juveniles feed in near surface waters. 

The second example deals with a critical manage- 
ment problem related to the Mentasta Caribou Herd, 
part of whose range intersects Wrangell-St. Elias Na- 
tional Park and Preserve. The herd decreased from 3, 1 00 
animals in 1 985 to fewer than 900 in 1 994. In a coop- 
erative agreement to allow some subsistence harvest, 
a simple density dependent model (Fig. 62) was used 
to calculate herd size with harvest through time. The 
model provided a decision tree for establishing har- 
vest levels: If the two-year mean fall calf recruitment 
(number of calves surviving into the fall) was greater 
than eighty, a hunt could occur, while a recruitment of 
less than eighty would eliminate any hunting. Other 
provisos included limiting the hunt to bulls only if the 
past two-year mean bull to cow ratio was greater than 
35:100 (Mentasta Caribou Plan 1995). 

Interestingly, as in the halibut example, a density 
dependent model that works for the Mentasta Herd 
would not be appropriate when applied to the much 
larger Western Arctic Caribou Herd (WACH). Now num- 

bering over half a million animals, the WACH fluctuates 
in size from fewer than 75,000 animals to the current 
maximum in cycles that span decades. However, re- 
search in Canada and other areas indicates this boom 
and bust cycle has nothing to do with levels of human 
or other predation, and is more directly linked to cli- 
mate change. In this case, precipitation and snow cover 
influence the caribou's access to the lichen they de- 
pend on for food. 

In both these examples, resource managers view 
the landscape as abstract and in a sense a virtual land- 
scape. When indigenous views of the landscape con- 
flict with model outcomes, a contested landscape be- 
gins to occur. A typical outcome is a complete rejec- 
tion of the resource agencies' landscape, reinforcement 
of traditional perspectives, and the creation of a land- 
scape of resistance. 

In the case of the WACH, local harvesters' reactions 
to what ADFC biologists believed was a precipitous 
decline of the herd in the mid-1970s provides an im- 
portant example of the difficulties of managing wild- 
life when harvesters and managers have divergent per- 
ceptions of how many animals populate the landscape. 
In the 1 970s caribou were counted using aerial surveys 
without the benefit of recent enumeration techniques 
such as radio collars or photo census. Agency manag- 
ers and biologists believed that the herd had declined 
because of human and animal (especially wolf) preda- 
tion (Fall 1976). 

Working from this density dependent model of the 
landscape, biologists responded to what they believed 
to be a crashing population by severely restricting har- 
vest. Managers were faced with attempting to set a re- 
gional harvest quota on the basis of what little harvest 
data they could obtain from local residents (some of 
whom they paid fifty dollars a month to act as village 
reporters), or assessments from pilots. After harvest by 
humans was determined to be approximately 25,000 
caribou peryear between 1 952-1 973, the Board of Came 
abruptly limited harvest from the WACH, a herd that 
had had no seasons or bag limits for seventeen years, 

1 94 


to 3,000 bull caribou for the 1976-1977 hunting sea- 
son (Davis and Valkenburg 1 978). 

Soon after these restrictions were in place, relations 
between harvesters and the ADFC reached a crisis point. 
Local people did not believe the biologists' assertion 
that caribou had sharply declined, because many of 
them saw large numbers of caribou on the landscape, 
even passing through their village (Davis 1976). 
To this day, most local residents do not believe 
that a significant caribou decline occurred during 
that period. A recent survey in the area showed 
that seventy-eight percent of villagers believed 
the caribou population had nof declined since 1 970, 
while seventy-seven percent of managers believed 
that the herd had declined (Man and the Biosphere 

Despite new regulations and the threat of ar- 
rest, the local harvest of caribou during that crisis 
period probably exceeded the quota established 
by the Alaska Board of Game. The majority of har- 
vesters simply did not comply with "compulsory" 
harvest reporting provisions. In 1977, ADFC re- 
ported that for the entire range of the herd, only 
nineteen percent of the hunters had returned per- 
mits as required by law (ADFC 1977). This is the 
landscape of resistance through noncompliance. 

It is not completely clear to what degree the 
1970s caribou crash reflected a precipitous de- 
cline of the magnitude asserted by ADFC or 
whether it resulted from incomplete surveys that 
omitted a significant portion of the herd. How- 
ever, in 1 978, ADFC biologists found 1 06,000 cari- 
bou in the herd, almost twice the number of ani- 
mals that agency biologists had believed were 
present two years before (Kruse 1995). Since it is 
unlikely that the herd size would double in two 
years, it appears that inaccurate data manipulated 
in an inappropriate model lead to a distorted per- 
ception of what was happening on the landscape. 

Most of Spaeder's respondents did not view 
harvest by humans as a key factor controlling the 


overall size and distribution of a wildlife species. 
They widely believed that if local people harvest 
only to meet their needs, without waste, animal 
populations would be maintained. In Table 6, 
Spaeder (2001 :66) summarizes differences between 
Western and indigenous knowledge as it relates 
to "management" practices. 

When Differing "Traditional" Views of 
the Landscape Meet: A Case Study from 
Bethel, Alaska 

In the traditional view of the landscape, animals are 
sentient, respect requires the remains of animal-per- 
sons be returned to the water or land, practices con- 
form to the seasons of the landscape, and words have 
power. In the Western view, resources are commodi- 
ties, animals and the landscape are acted upon, not 
with, and bureaucratic rules and statistical models serve 
as the basis for conservation efforts. One of the best 
examples of the meeting of different constructions of 
the landscape leading to frustration and resistance is 
found in Morrow and Hensel (1992:47-9). Using tran- 
scripts from public fisheries meetings held in Bethel in 
the early 1 990s, the study clarifies opaque exchanges 
between regulators and local Native fishermen. West- 
ern land managers seem unaware of the nature of tradi- 
tional landscapes. Whereas the fisheries biologists are 
very concerned about fish returns and are actively con- 
sidering closing the fishery. Native elders, based on 
years of observation and experience, counsel that it is 
an ill-considered decision. 

Elders attending the public meetings tried to ex- 
plain salmon behavior to the regulators. They noted 
that there were clear signs of abundant fish, based on 
local people's long experience and observations. They 
said weir counts were low because the sentient fish 
avoid low water conditions. One elder pointed out that 
on another system where water levels were higher, fish 
were ascending normally (ibid.:47). The meeting tran- 
scripts reveal the biologists' patronizing dismissal of 
the elders' observations. The outcome of this subsis- 

1 95 

tence closure was dramatic. The salmon harvest, which 
forms up to seventy percent of the wildlife diet in these 
riverine communities, was lost. The small amount of in- 
come gained from the commercial fishery— income that 
households depended on for cash to purchase boats, 
motors, fuel, and nets— was also lost. 

Part of this distressing interaction comes from dif- 
ferent conceptions about how the environment works. 
For the Yup'ik, conservation requires practices that sig- 
nify respect for the environment. Animals possess sen- 
tience and intent. Their absence is by conscious deci- 
sion, usually affected by human behaviors that breach 
reciprocal trust and respect. Changing weather pat- 
terns, reduced fish stocks, and absent game are all 
attributed to a human failure to respect nature. By con- 
trast, non-Native scientists assume that resource de- 
cline is caused by overharvesting, habitat destruction, 
or climate change. 

Even the way one speaks about the land and its 
resources has a dramatic impact on relationships. 
Yup'ik speak of the absence of fish as a temporary 
consequence of conditions such as wind direction 
or water level. Non-Yup'ik managers, on the other 
hand, explicitly voice their concerns in terms of de- 
clining fish populations. The Yup'ik, who believe fish 
can hear and understand human speech, are under- 
standably nervous that the biologists' assertions 
would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the tran- 
scripts Yup'ik speakers were careful not to say there 
were not enough fish. Resource managers thought 
the Yup'ik response was predictable given their eco- 
nomic and nutritional investment in keeping the fish- 
ery open. Fisheries managers wanted local fisher- 
men to admit, given sonar and weir counts, that the 
fish were not returning. This in turn increased the 
anxiety of local people who felt that such an ad- 
mission was tantamount to guaranteeing the out- 

In his concluding remarks to the fishery man- 
ager, the elder tried to communicate the conse- 
quences, from his view, of a fisheries closure. 

the fish are coming in response to people's 
need. When they come, they must be taken: 
a decision to close the fishery will allow 
them to pass and they may be offended and 
not return in future" (ibid.:49). 

This edited quote points out the most important stric- 
ture on human/"animal-person" relations. Not to har- 
vest an animal that has consciously decided to present 
itself is a profound breach of respect that may lead to 
the animal and all its congeners deciding never to re- 
turn. What wildlife biologists saw as a conservation mea- 
sure, was seen by Yup'ik as a disrespectful act that could 
lead to catastrophe. 

Developing a Shared View of the 

The question of whether to conserve ethnographic 
landscapes seems poorly formed. Views of the 
landscape vary between and within cultures. How- 
ever, as Table 6 indicates, all the landscape views 
considered in this chapter share a commitment to 
the conservation and continued utilization of wild- 
life (albeit in a non-consumptive mode for wilder- 
ness advocates). The art in achieving this objec- 
tive is not to insist on the priority of any view in 
toto. With respect to the issues discussed in this 
chapter, a number of processes have been identi- 
fied that allow selective overlap or acceptance of 
multiple viewpoints. Cooperative management 
techniques lead these mechanisms. If we break 
resource management regimes down into four ge- 
neric activities: 


one can show how combining multiple views of the 
landscape can lead to a shared (or at least agreed 
upon) perspective. 



Table 6/ Characteristics of Scientific and Traditional Knowledge Systems 

Knowledge System 

Mode of data 

Temporal Scale of 

Western Resource Management 

■Based on experimentation and 
systematic direct and indirect 
observations. Knowledge base and 
management framework seen to be 

■Short-term populations surveys 
providing a synchronic perspective. 

Traditional (Local) Knowledge 

■Based on less systematic ground- 
based observations. Ecological 
knowledge linked to myths and 
place-based narratives. 

•Long-term observation coupled with 
intergenerational knowledge providing 
a diachronic perspective. 

Spatial Scale of 

■Large scale (i.e., for moose, entire 
watershed; for caribou, herd range) 

■Smaller scale (i.e. traditional 
subsistence harvesting zones; for 
some big game species, large portions 
of a watershed) 

Locus of knowledge 

■Knowledge held by wildlife 
professionals. Management system 
hierarchically organized. 

■Knowledge diffuses, seen to be 
increasing with harvesting experience. 

Goal of knowledge 

■Establish generalized principles 
explaining and predicting the 
status and behavior of wildlife. 

■Understand the dynamics and behavior 
of wildlife in the local area. 

Assumptions about 
system dynamics 

■Populations can be maintained at 
or around a stable equilibrium point. 
Populations can be controlled by 
harvest, predation and habitat 
enhancement. (Population models 
emphasize density dependent 

•Many species seen to have population 
cycles. Harvest and predation can 
affect populations, though animal 
population dynamics remain largely 

Goal of management 
and harvesting activities 

•Species manipulated or controlled 
to achieve sustainable yield. 

■Goal is to respond and adapt to system 
surprise (uncertainty). 

Ecological systems 
structured by: 

Bio-physical forces 

■Bio-physical forces and unseen super- 
natural forces 

Preferred conservation 

■Regulate uses, control of means, 
methods, seasons and bag limits; 
access open to all user groups. 

■Control (limit) access to traditional 
use territories. 

Spaeder et al 2001:66. Table adapted from 
Wenzel 1987. 

Berkes 1995: DeWalt 1994, Feit 1988: Usher 1986: Usher and 


As discussed above, a determined effort is underway 
to establish a cooperative management board for the 
Western Arctic Caribou Herd (Western Arctic Caribou 
Herd 2003). One management function that all parties 
have agreed on is in the area of research. To overcome 
the impasse between land managers and local com- 
munities about the size of the WACH, a number of 
cooperative research arrangements have been put into 
place. Two efforts stand out. First, caribou surveys are 


now carried out with local hunters on board the planes. 
Before the current agreement, indigenous hunters regu- 
larly complained that observer planes missed pockets 
of caribou. Local hunters, who have carefully moni- 
tored the migration of the caribou in their area, now fly 
with the observers. Both sides benefit from this pro- 
cess: biologists attain more valid estimates of herd 
size, and local hunters are more likely to believe the 
estimates when their input is an integral part of the 

1 97 

In addition, biologists are now recruiting hunters 
to collect a series of measurements on each caribou 
they kill, including proportion of body fat, condition of 
bone marrow, presence of parasites, and gross body 
weight. Local hunters use traditional knowledge to 
maintain a dialogue with the biologists (who put these 
measurements into a variety of models) as they jointly 
assess the health of the herd. Efforts such as these 
tend to lead to convergence on estimates on herd 
size and the health of the herd, although the sides may 
still diverge substantially as to why and how these 
outcomes have occurred. 


The Kilbuck Herd, numbering about 7,000 caribou, 
ranges mainly in the Yukon-Delta National Wildlife Ref- 
uge in Western Alaska. In 1990, the Kilbuck Caribou 
Herd Co-Management Regime was jointly established. 
The participants included eighteen Yup'ik Eskimo vil- 
lages, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Alaska 
Department of Fish and Game (Spaeder 1 995). Using a 
density dependent model of herd dynamics (an appro- 
priate model given the small herd size), the working 
group agreed to a permit-based, bulls-only harvest, lim- 
ited to five percent of the total herd. The group next 
addressed the potentially difficult issue of how to di- 
vide the initial annual harvest quota of 125 animals 
among eighteen villages, which varied in community 
size (70-550 people), proximity to the herd, and cus- 
tomary use of the resource. 

Once the allocation limit was established, the task 
of distributing permits was delegated to the Native 
members of the group. Instead of arguing about 
need ("our community is larger and needs more per- 
mits") or precedence ("our community has harvested 
these animals for hundreds of years and you never 
hunted them"), these representatives decided to di- 
vide the permits equally among the eighteen com- 
munities. This egalitarian solution reflected the Yup'ik 
view of the landscape. For example, interviews with 
Native respondents suggest that this decision ex- 

1 98 

presses the Yup'ik value of sharing. 

Respondents stated that they felt it was 
important to share things over which one 
cannot extend ownership, such as big game. 
No one "owns" the caribou, respondents 
asserted, just as one cannot own the fish in 
the ocean. This decision also serves as an 
example of one way that native groups 
attempt, where possible, to embed their own 
values within a regime whose character and 
structure is decidedly non-Native (Spaeder 

The Mentasta Caribou Herd, mentioned above, provides 
another interesting example of the allocation issue. 
When fewer than thirty caribou are available to harvest 
under the management plan, permits for these caribou 
were given to elders in the most traditional and long- 
established communities. Designated hunters were al- 
lowed to harvest the caribou and provide them to the 
elders. During one year, only one caribou was harvested 
because hunters did not make extraordinary efforts to 
meet the harvest quota as the herd was relatively inac- 
cessible during the year. This fits with the traditional 
practice of harvesting only those resources that can be 
efficiently obtained. 

A compromise landscape emerges in both these 
examples. The communities' decision to restrict their 
harvests goes along with but does not necessarily agree 
with the biologist's view of how caribou operate on 
the landscape. In return, the biologists allow the com- 
munity to allocate how the caribou are obtained and 
distributed without necessarily agreeing with the 
view of reciprocity between humans and animal- 


Non-compliance with resource management is a basic 
mechanism of resistance for local people. Despite the 
fact that several models of cooperative enforcement 
exist in Alaska, most land managers believe that en- 
forcement cannot be delegated to local or tribal enti- 
ties. In addition, law enforcement personnel tend to 
have a very circumscribed view of the landscape linked 
to regulation and violations of seasons and bag limits. 


Given the vast expanses of Alaska landscapes and 
the limited number of enforcement personnel, how- 
ever, most village residents' behavior is based on their 
own tenets and values. Enforcement prosecution, in- 
cluding fines and confiscation of hunting equipment, 
seem to be counterproductive in the long run (e.g., the 
1961 Barrow Duck-In). 


ANILCA mandates the implementation of Regional 
Advisory Councils, composed of local subsistence us- 
ers, who develop proposals to the Federal Subsistence 
Board on hunting eligibility, seasons, and harvest lim- 
its. The councils' recommendations on their proposals 
carry considerable weight with the Federal Subsistence 
Board. In fact, the board may only reject the councils' 
recommendations on proposals for a few circumscribed 
reasons, such as potential harm to the resource. Thus, 
ANILCA provides for the incorporation of local experi- 
ence and perspective of the landscape into Western 
management practices. 

While the text of ANILCA assumes that local rural 
residents know a lot about local fish and wildlife popu- 
lations, it also seems to imply that the absence of a 
Western resource management regime is the absence 
of fln/ management regime. This common misconcep- 
tion results in Western land managers' anxiety that with- 
out the strong hand of bureaucratic organization, local 
communities, now armed with Western technology, will 
over-harvest wildlife resources and threaten their 

This fear is both a product of ignorance, failing to 
be aware of indigenous conservation practices, and 
the classic error of affirming the consequence with re- 
spect to the premise. In this case Western conserva- 
tionists invent a concept, i.e., "the tragedy of the 
commons," and then project this circumstance into 
any situation that lacks armed enforcement offic- 
ers. Recent historical research has called into ques- 
tion the formulation of this concept. Resources held 
in common in seventeenth century Europe often had 

informal checks and balances. In addition, numer- 
ous anthropological treatises have documented the 
existence of formal and complex indigenous man- 
agement regimes (Brightman 1993). 

Despite these problems, the Regional Advisory 
Councils have provided a forum where divergent 
views of "landscape relations" have been able to 
co-exist. None of the constituencies have aban- 
doned their views; rather they have expanded their 
awareness to admit that other perspectives exist. Bi- 
ologists still use statistical models and eschew the 
sentience of animals; traditional harvesters still be- 
lieve that landscapes are animate, that one must en- 
gage in reciprocal practices with animal-persons, and 
that statistical models are suspect when they con- 
flict with their own experiences on the land. A co- 
operative approach that leads to a general agree- 
ment about the size and health of "resource" popu- 
lations provides the trust or "social capital" that al- 
lows both sides to ignore the different processes 
that lead to similar conclusions. 

Postmodern arguments trumpet the demise of a 
privileged perspective, however, at the same time; 
actors do not have to agree on the "true" nature of 
the landscape to respect one another. Co-manage- 
ment and cooperative endeavors require not the same 
view but an agreed upon vision. Such shared vi- 
sions are reciprocal gifts, where both sides sacrifice 
their clothes to share the same spiritual journey. I 
hope this paper has shown that the imposition of 
one's cultural view of the landscape on other actors 
is, in the end, self-defeating. Active awareness of 
other perceptions of the landscape will most effec- 
tively allow land managers to achieve their conser- 
vation objectives. 


1 . Southern congeners of Alaska's interior 
Athapaskan communities. Apache and Alaska 
Athapaskan languages while mutually unintelligible, 
are closely related and form part of the same lan- 
guage family 


2. This is not to say that current indigenous 
practices do not incorporate the latest western GPS 
technology in their subsistence practices. 

3. Although Lippard (1997:179) characterizes 
his pictures as "tranquilizing" and "misleading." 

4. The survey was done in 1987-1991 under a 
contract to the United States Department of Interior, 
Minerals Management Sen/ice, Anchorage, Alaska 

5. Although we decline to discuss the applica- 
bility of these density dependent models, in gen- 
eral we agree with Pimm when he states, "And yet, as 
a community ecologist, I find the usual discussions 
of these issues incredibly circumscribed." (Pimm 


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~y"!ie W!io!e ^tort) of O^r [and": 

nog;raphic Landscapes in (janibeii, ^t. Lawrence ]sian A, Alaska 


As cultural change and modernization has overtaken 
many Indigenous settlements across the North, one of 
the most visible signs is the profound transformation 
of the physical landscape. When old teachers' reports, 
elders' memories, and historical photographs are 
matched against today's local settings, time and again 
it looks as if events separated by a few decades took 
place in a different physical and social space— in terms 
of the general look of Native communities, their social 
composition, dwelling type, and relation to and the use 
of the surrounding area. 

Other changes related to the way(s) people men- 
tally organize their environment are invisible but, nev- 
ertheless, profound. An anthropologist checking early 
accounts or comparing notes of the same community 
some ten, twenty, or thirty years later, would easily rec- 
ognize the difference in types and number of local 
place names, nature of stories about the area, set of 
local features used as spiritual and identity markers, 
and others. Such shifts in socially recognized and cul- 
turally organized environment, the "ethnographic land- 
scape," may progress even faster than the real physical 
transformation of a given place. Often, such mental pro- 
jections of the same physical landscape can be surpris- 
ingly disconnected, if not worlds apart, particularly in 
the cases of population or language shift, rapid accul- 
turation, and/or other breaches in cultural continuity. 
Because of that, various chronological phases of the 
local "ethnographic landscape"— if not clearly distinct 
"landscapes" (in plural)— may be identified or construed 
at one physical location. Similarly, archaeologists rec- 

ognize subsequent cultural phases of an ancient vil- 
lage and/or independent local settlements via strati- 
fied site excavation. Unlike archaeologists, who un- 
cover physical traces of ancient sites from the ground, 
it remains to cultural anthropologists and local histori- 
ans to retrieve and recreate such old mental construc- 
tions, former ethnographic landscapes, from people's 
memories and written records. 

This paper is an attempt at construing a 200-year 
history of the changing ethnographic landscape(s) of 
one Native Alaskan community, the village of Sivuqaq/ 
Cambell on St. Lawrence Island. Sivuqaq/Gambell is 
by no means unique in undergoing a dramatic physical 
and social transition through the centuries. Unlike other 
Native Alaskan communities, however, it enjoys one 
of the best-documented records of change in its his- 
torical environment. This record was accumulated 
through extensive archaeological excavations at nearby 
ancient sites, and through several recent oral history 
and educational programs undertaken by community 
members, often in cooperation with anthropologists 
(Akuzilleput Igaqullghet 2002; Crowell 1985; Sivuqam 
Nangaghnegha 1 985-89; Silook 1 975; Yupik Language 
1 989). Voluminous narratives, archival documentation, 
and historical photographs produced by early visitors 
to St. Lawrence Island are also available. The present 
synopsis of the changing ethnographic landscape at 
Sivuqaq/Gambell is based on such a survey of existing 
records; it has been made possible thanks to the dedi- 
cated collaboration of many of today's elders, who shared 
their knowledge and historical memories of their Na- 


tive village (see below, Acknowledgments). 

This paper is also an effort in "applied preservation 
ethnography." As new types of dwellings replaced old 
ones, and the main village site expanded across its 
traditional location, huge portions of local heritage 
were all but abraded, both physically and mentally. 
Some sections of the old village are currently under 
water; others have been dramatically transformed by 
new construction. Many more were lost through ne- 
glect, abandonment, insensitivity of new construction 
projects, and thinning of the once thriving cultural tra- 

In this respect, Sivuqaq/Gambell is hardly different 
from any other historic town, whose rich cultural heri- 
tage is threatened by population growth, moderniza- 
tion, and new living standards. Hundreds of such his- 
toric settlements in the U.S. and elsewhere have wit- 
nessed their old houses being replaced by modern apart- 
ment buildings, and their cobblestone streets trans- 
formed into parking lots and strip malls. As in Sivuqaq/ 
Cambell, it is often left to fragile human memory to be 
the sole guardian of the vanished local scenery other- 
wise preserved in old museum photographs, paintings, 
and historical records. This paper discusses some mod- 
ern strategies in heritage documentation and the ap- 
propriate community policies that may be applied to 
preserve the legacy of the long-gone ethnographic land- 
scapes in a living Arctic town. 

The Setting 

The community of Sivuqaq/Gambell (population ca. 
650) is located on a flat gravel spit attached to the 
rocky Cape Chibukak, the northwestern tip of St. 
Lawrence Island, on the Bering Sea coast (Fig. 63). The 
island has been American territory since 1 867, although 
the village is situated much closer to Asia than to North 
America (mainland Alaska). Barely forty miles of water 
separates it from nearby Chukchi Peninsula, Siberia, and 
the tops of the Siberian mountains are visible from the 
village on a clear day. Local residents, with the excep- 
tion of a handful of contract schoolteachers, are mostly 

Native Yupik Eskimo. They call their village (and the 
whole island) Sivuqaq and themselves Sivuqaghhmiit, 
when speaking in their language, Yupik. The official 
name of the town, Cambell, was designated in 1 899 to 
honor its first white missionary-teacher who drowned 
in 1 898. Native residents use both town names, although 
"Cambell" is commonly preferred when talking and writ- 
ing in English. 

The late anthropologist Charles Hughes produced 
an emotional image of dramatic changes that were twist- 
ing and shaping the old village of Sivuqaq/Gambell. 
On his first visit in the summer of 1 954, he called the 
landscape he observed "the torn grass:" 

Evidence of significant shifts in the Cambell 
Eskimos' way of life presented itself even 
before we have reached the village on the 
mile-long journey from the point of 
landing. . . . Fourteen years earlier [i.e., in 
1940] the entire gravel spit stretching from 
Mt. Chibukak out to the sea was covered 
with grasses and other plants, making a 
thin matting of vegetation over the loose 
pebble underneath. . . . Nothing marred the 
smoothness of this green plain except the 
two or three archaeological sites—remains 
of old villages—in which the Eskimos dug 
for specimens. . . . But now most of the 
covering was gone, turned over and 
churned under by tractors of the construc- 
tion crews and military bases. . . .The 
destruction of the thin edge of green on the 
seaworn pebbles was merely a symbol of a 
much larger set of circumstances, which had 
come to Cambell in the (last) fourteen years. 
Now hundreds of empty oil drums, rusted 
and filigreed by the rains, snows, and sea 
spray, dotted the gravel spit. ... As we 
approached closer to the village, we came 
across twisted and bent sections of steel 
matting, intended, a couple of years before, 
for an airplane runway to link Cambell 
regularly with the outside world (Hughes 
1960:16, 20). 

Today the oil drums and metal debris have been cleaned 
up, and scattered patches of meager grass covering 
the spit can be seen again. No visible signs remain of 
the old military sites and installations that marred the 
landscape and epitomized the harsh image of change 
as observed in 1954 (Mobley 2001). But the once- 
"pristine" gravel spit is now covered with a sprawling 



63/ Aerial view of Cape Sivuqaq with the Sivuqaq (Cambell) Mountain, Troutman Lal<e, and the village ofCambell 
at the bottom right end of the spit. 

modem town of some five hundred residents, inhabit- 
ing dozens of new family houses, public and store 
buildings, and an impressive new schoolhouse. The 
gravel cover is again turned over and churned under— 
this time, by the tracks of the Honda four-wheelers that 
serve as major transportation in the community. In fifty 
years, the whole village has literally been on the move: 
not only in time, but also in space. Only a handful of 
older buildings remain at the former village site a half 
mile away. 

The present-day town of Sivuqaq/Gambell is split 
into two distinct parts about a half mile apart. The 
"new village," of several dozen modern residential 
houses and many modern public buildings and ware- 
houses, is located on the flat gravel plain between 
the lake and the northern shore of the cape (see 
maps and description in: Callaway and Pilyasov 
1993; Crowell 1985; Jolles 2002; Jorgensen 
1990:26, 28-9; Mobley 2001:10-12, 18-19). The 
"old village" made of more traditional houses sits 
on top of a small ridge that descends to the west- 
ern shore. The "new village" was established in the mid- 

1 970s; before then, all residents lived at the "old" site. 

Judging from several C-1 4 dates obtained from the 
ruins of old dwellings and abandoned ancient sites, the 
area has been populated for the last 2,000 years, if not 
longer. Ancient people lived here very much like the 
present-day residents, primarily by hunting walruses, 
seals, whales, and other marine mammals, and by fish- 
ing, hunting birds, and collecting greens and berries. 
They traded actively with other communities on the 
island and with the villages on the Siberian (and 
later Alaska) mainland (Ackerman 1 984:1 08-1 3; Mason 
1 998:260-5). The overall shape of the inhabited area at 
Cape Chibukak (Sivuqaq), however, has changed sub- 
stantially over the last 2,000 years, as the flat gravel 
plain or foreland attached to the rocky cape (Sevuokuk 
Mountain) has been gradually expanding to the west 
and to the north. 

Physical Changes in the Sivuqaq/Gambell 

Henry B. Collins, Smithsonian archaeologist who con- 
ducted excavations at and around Sivuqaq/Gambell in 



1929-1930, produced the first outlines of "historical 
landscapes" of the area, based on his surveys of local 
ancient sites (Fig. 64): 

Immediately to the south of the present 
village [today's "old site"] are the pits of 
earlier houses of wood and whale bones, 
some of which were occupied until the end of 
the last century. Sunken caches or meat 
cellars, built entirely of whale bones, are well 
preserved, some, in fact, being still in use. 
Near the head of the lake the ruins of this 
recently abandoned site merge imperceptibly 
into those of an older and more extensive 
site, known to the Eskimos as Seklow- 
aghyaget [Siqiuwaghyaaget], "many caches." 
About half a mile to the northeast a grass- 
covered midden, marking the site of another 
old village, rises conspicuously from the 
gravel plain; this site the Eskimos call 
levoghiyuoq [Ayveghyaget], "place of the 
walrus," from its resemblance to a herd of 
walrus lying on the ice. Some 200 yards south 
of levoghiyoq, and at the foot of the plateau, 
is still another old site known to the Eskimos 
as Miyowagh [Mayughaaq], "the climbing up 
place" (1937:33). 

According to Collins, these ancient sites were, in fact, 
the landmarks of the changing shape of Cape Chibukak, 
as the series of successively younger beach ridges were 
built by the retreating surf zone and shore currents, so 
that the old village sites had to be moved repeatedly 
to remain closer to the beach. Thus, the Mayughaaq 
site and another ancient settlement. Hillside, higher up 
above the slope of the Sevuokuk Mountain, were the 
oldest in the area. The site of Ayveghyaget, located 
some 200 yards closer to the present-day northern shore 
and separated from Mayughaaq by four beach lines, 
should be dated from a later period. The site at 
Siqiuwaghyaaget was populated next and was inhab- 
ited until the end of the pre-contact period (i.e., about 
AD 1 700), when people relocated the village closer to 
the expanding western shore. About 1 00 to 1 20 years 
later, they moved again to build a precursor of the 
historic village on a higher ridge. Since then, the vil- 
lage moved several hundred yards farther northward 
along the western shore, as all the historical houses of 
the late 1 800s and early 1 900s were located north of 

the abandoned underground dwellings 
(Collinsl 937:33-4, 1 940:546). These settlement shifts 
might have caused substantial reconfiguration of the 
local ethnographic landscape(s), even if people contin- 
ued to exploit the same area, with more or less the 
same type of economy. 

It is hard to say whether the old sites at and around 
Sivuqaq/Cambell were occupied by one residential 
population or by distinct communities that moved from 
one place to another through the centuries, as the land 
was physically changing under people's feet. It is quite 
likely that, at least, the three latest settlements— 
Siqiuwaghyaaget, Collins' "old section" (sometimes 
named Mangiighmiit by today's elders), and what is 
known today as Cambell "old site" (i.e., historic village 
of the 1 900s)— were inhabited by related communi- 
ties. The sheer proximity of three sites argues for their 
continuity. The connection between the "old section" 
and the historic village of the late 1800s and of the 
1 900s is also supported by local oral tradition.' 

According to Collins, at some point during the 
eighteenth century, people started to build semi- 
subterranean dwellings at the "old section" site, to the 
south of the historic village, along the elevated gravel 
bar between the lake and the sea (Collins 1937:189; 
Fig. 50). Today's residents call this type of house nenglu 
in Yupik, and igloo when speaking in English. Collins 
argued that the houses at that "old village" site were 
abandoned "some forty or fifty years" before his visit, 
that is, before 1880 (Collins 1937:190, 261). Today's 
elders remember these houses from "grandfathers' sto- 
ries" only: 

My grandfather also told me about the old 
underground houses, nengiu. They used to 
live in these nenglus when they were young. I 
think he was born in a nenglu house. They 
used to make roofing of whalebones and 
they put walrus hides on top but particularly 
very big pieces of ground (sod). It was very 
warm, just like a good roofing. They put 
many whalebones on top, so that it could 
keep these big pieces of ground (sod) on the 
ceiling. (Who lived in this house?) I think, his 
parents used to live there, Temkeruu's 



64/ Outline map of Cam bell and vicinity, at north- 
west end of St. Lawrence Island (Collins 1 937: 1 89). 

[grandfather's] parents; maybe, also their 
brothers and family. . . . Maybe, they once 
lived in one nenglu but as far as I remember, 
they always had different (separate) living 
quarters— two or maybe three (residencies) in 
one nenglu. They called it saaygu. They got a 
door and they somehow separated this 
nenglu into (family) living quarters. They used 
clay lamps, number of them for light and 

(Have you ever seen such a house?) Yes, in 
the camp Tapghuq there was a nenglu that 
used to be of my father's side grandfather's 
relatives. It was Aymergen's nenglu. It was not 
ruined yet when I first saw it. They used to 
stay at the Tapghuq camp along with my 
grandfather and family. ... But Aymergen's 
old nenglu was still staying there, although it 
was probably many years ago when they used 
to stay [to live] there (Avalak/Beda Slwooko 
1 999; Akuzilleput2002A09). 

At some point about the mid-1 800s, the semi-subterra- 
nean winter sod-houses at Gam bell were swiftly replaced 
by a new type of above-ground winter dwelling, 
mangteghapik, with an inner chamber made of walrus 
and reindeer skins (see descriptions in: Jackson 1 903:28; 
Geist and Rainey 1936:12-13; Moore 1923:346-9; 
Sivuqam 1989:100-5). According to archaeologists 
(Collins 1 937:261 ; Geist and Rainey 1 936:1 2), this type 
of winter house was introduced from Siberian Yupik 

villages across the Bering Strait, presumably because 
of increased contacts. Most of the present-day elders 
age seventy and older were born in such houses and 
remember it well. This shift obviously made a great 
impact on the overall appearance and the general con- 
figuration of the village. As the underground sod-dwell- 
ings at the "old site" were abandoned, people were 
building new skin-covered houses farther north, along 
the beach ridge. Hence, the whole village was gradu- 
ally moving northward. 

This village landscape of dome-shaped, skin-cov- 
ered houses surrounded by smaller tents or frame cab- 
ins, vertical whalebone rafters, boat-racks, and meat cel- 
lars is depicted in many early photographs of Sivuqaq/ 
Gambell from the 1880s and until the 1930s. Unfortu- 
nately, no photographs or good accounts of the vil- 
lage exist before 1 881 . 

The most significant event in the recent history of 
St. Lawrence Island occurred in the winter of 1 878- 
1 879, when a terrible famine, probably coupled with an 
epidemic, wiped out more than half of the island's popu- 
lation. Several villages were completely destroyed, and 
many communities barely endured with few survivors. 
With the death of so many people, the pre-famine 
social geography of the island made up of several 
settlements, clans, and tribes, was almost obliterated. 

The village of Sivuqaq was less affected by the 
tragedy than, probably, all other large communities on 
the island (see contemporary reports and estimates in 
Doty 1899:187, 217; Hooper 1 881 :1 0; Muir 1917:108; 
Krupnik, 1 994; Mudar and Speaker 2003). A portion of 
its population survived, preserving some cultural con- 
tinuity with the earlier residential community. Many 
survivors from other settlements hit by the famine 
moved to the area. They were joined by several Yupik 
families from Siberia, eager to leave their mainland 
villages because of a similar combination of bad 
weather, poor harvest, and mass starvation. These people 
brought with them their specific customs and group 
names, as well as memories of distant places and land- 
scapes. This mixture of local and introduced traditions 



was the foundation on which the present-day com- 
munity of Sivuqaq/Gambell, and its culturally organized 
environment, "ethnographic landscape," was created. 

Construction of the government school-building in 
1891 and the arrival of residential white teachers in 
September 1 894 marked the second major documented 
event to reconfigure the historic village of Sivuqaq/ 
Gambell. Carpenters from the ship that transported the 
lumber from San Francisco (Gambell 1910:3; Jackson 
1 903:29; Akuzilleput2002.267) erected the school build- 
ing ("a strong, plain structure, forty feet in length by 
twenty in width") in 1 891 . From 1 894, with the arrival of 
the first teachers, and for decades thereafter, it served 
as the only public building in the village, combining 
the functions of schoolhouse, teachers' residence, Pres- 
byterian mission, and community hall. 

Vene Gambell, the first teacher, claimed that the 
schoolhouse was built "on the outskirts" of the village 
(Gambell 1 91 0:3); one of his photographs in 1 897 de- 
picts a large empty space at one side of the school 
Oackson 1 898:36). The practice of the time was to place 
schoolhouses (and the teachers) some distance apart 
from the Native residential area. Today's elders, how- 
ever, remember the old school building of the 1 920s 
and 1 930s located at the center of the community, sur- 
rounded from all sides by Native houses. That sug- 
gests that the village of the late 1 800s was made of 
several dispersed house clusters or neighborhoods, with 
plenty of free space in between (Fig. 65). 

The next significant event in village history was 
the "big flood" of 1 914 (or 1 91 3). Several accounts of 
the "big storm" of 1914 were first recorded by anthro- 
pologists Alexander and Dorothea Leighton in 1 940; 
many of today's elders recount similar stories they heard 
from their parents (Leighton 1 940; see Akuzilleput2002). 
The storm reportedly created a huge wave that flooded 
a whole section of the historic village. It wiped out 
several houses and an entire small neighborhood lo- 
cated at or close to today's beach. That forced the resi- 
dents to move out and to rebuild their houses on higher 
ground in the central portion of the village, close to 

the school building. As a result, the former spatial struc- 
ture of the village, made of several separate neighbor- 
hoods was dramatically transformed: 

There were a lot of houses made of walrus 
hide (in Gambell). Some of them are under 
the sea now, especially two of them that I 
know belonged to the Tungiyan's and 
Anangti's. . . . Our house was where the boat 
racks are now. To the north was Temkeru's. 
Farther north from Temkeru's was Kaningok's 
and to the west of the meat racks was 
Nemayak's. These three houses were also 
located where the boat racks are now. 

At that time the beach was farther down and 
there was no erosive waves back then. At 
least the waves did not go beyond the banks 
of the beach. 

Back in those days when the waves started 
getting bigger than normal, we (also) moved 
from our original place to where we are now. 
The waves weren't really that big but every- 
body decided to move (Lloyd Oovi in 
Sivuqam^ 985:] 0-] 7). 

As some families were forced to move their dwellings 
to the center, those who lived at the southern end de- 
cided to leave for good. Shortly after the storm of 1 9 1 4, 
they moved to reindeer herders' camps in the interior 
of St. Lawrence Island. Eventually, they settled at the 
new village of Savoonga, forty-five miles from Gambell. 

Anthropologist Riley Moore, who visited the vil- 
lage in 1912, shortly before the "big flood," reported 
that some families were already using lumber frame 
houses during the summer months "but they (the resi- 
dents) move into Native houses built of [walrus] hides 
and driftwood as soon as cold weather begins" (Moore 
1 923:350). It was the prohibitive cost of imported lum- 
ber that kept the number of frame houses low. By 
the 1 930s, however, the transition to lumber houses 
was almost complete and the last traditional skin-cov- 
ered dwelling was dismantled in the summer of 1940 
(Hughes 1960:16). Still, an old tradition of using two 
types of residences during the year— a winter house 
and a summer skin tent (gw/gu)— persisted, as almost 
every family kept separate lumber structures for its sum- 
mer and winter occupation. This combination of wooden 



65/ St Lawrence Island Yupik women and children in front of a traditional semi-subterranean house, nenglu, 1 889, 
one of the earliest historical photographs of Sivuaqaq/Cambell, showing the very dispersed nature of the old 
village, with plenty of empty space in between the house clusters. 

structures, boat-racks, scattered whalebones, and ver- 
tical jaw-poles made a picturesque image of the vil- 
lage, as seen from many photographs (Fig. 66) and 
visitors' accounts: 

As approached from the direction of the sea, 
the village was seen as a cluster of wooden 
houses arranged roughly in three straggling 
rows running parallel to the western beach. In 
front of the houses and typical of practically 
all Eskimo settlements were the many whale- 
bone racks within easy reach of the water, 
onto which whaleboats and skin-covered 
Native craft were lashed. 

The center of the village was clearly the 
square bounded by the newly constructed 
schoolhouse and teachers' quarters, the 
community store, the nurse's residence and 
dispensary, and the Presbyterian mission, the 
oldest building in the village and the first 
permanent white construction, which dated 
from the late 1 890s and for many years 
served as church, school, and community 
meeting hall. The fifty or so Eskimo houses 
were constructed of lumber imported from the 
mainland, and they could be grouped by a 
casual glance into two types. . . . The first 
type of house was typically the summer 
dwelling place, and the second was the 

structure in which a family spent the winter. 
Most families had a house of each kind 
(Hughes 1960:1 5-16). 

In the 1 930s, some lumber houses were transformed 
into winter dwellings, with old-style sleeping places of 
reindeer skins (agra) built inside. Families stopped us- 
ing seal-oil lamps for heating and cooking, and switched 
to coal and oil fuel stoves. Then, the skin-covered sleep- 
ing places were dismantled as described in Akuzilleput 

I was born in 1 926, and our old (winter) house 
was still there. Then my uncle Waamquun 
built another house of a similar shape to the 
old winter home. The whole frame-house, but 
with this (round-shape) front, like the old 
winter-home. And he put the same agra 
inside. But soon after that it was gone, when 
they put the heater inside. And after that 
they just moved to their summer house year- 

I was probably five or six years old, when my 
uncle built this new house and put the agra 
inside. But later on there was no more agra. 
They made a full room and a little door, so 
that we could go in and out. And we started 
to use kerosene heater or other heater to heat 



the room. And stopped using seal-oil lamps. I 
was probably ten years old, when it happened 
[1935 to 1938]" (Anaggun/Ralph Apatiki, Sr., 
1 999). 

We did the same thing at about the same 
time, in the later part of the (1 9)30s. But our 
family was using a wood stove. And also 
kerosene lamp for the light, until we finally 
got electricity here. It happened about 1940 
(Akulki/Conrad Oozeva, 1999). 

Then all people remodeled their homes. They 
changed their inner rooms, they put lumber 
instead of fur (wall covers) inside. And also 
made doors and windows instead of these 
reindeer skins we used to go under. They made 
the same winter houses but just put lumber on 
the outside instead of the walrus hides with 
ropes (Kepelgu/Willis Walunga, 1999). 

The 1 940s to the 1 9605 also witnessed several major 
construction projects run by outsiders at or close to 
the historic village. First, the new housing section for 
the personnel of the Civil Aeronautics Administration 
(CAA) was built a short distance from the village, begin- 
ning in 1 943. After World War II, two U.S. military bases 
operated near Gambell between 1948 and 1958 (Hughes 
1 960:295-304, 351-3; Mobley 2001 ;8-l 0). A small air- 
strip appeared to the south of the historic village in 
1 940, which was expanded during World War II. Several 
old pits, meat-cellars, and whole sections of the "old 
site" were destroyed by this construction. Finally, dur- 
ing the 1 960s, a huge new schoolhouse was built in 
the middle of the village near the central public place. 
The historic school building erected in 1891 and later 
transformed into a Presbyterian church, was torn down, 
marking a symbolic end to the era started in 1891 to 

A far more radical shift happened during the 1 970s, 
when new state and governmental funding became avail- 
able in Alaska due to increased oil and gas tax rev- 
enues. Between 1 972 and 1 982, a new town was built 
on the exposed gravel spit between the lake and northern 
shore, about half a mile (500-1 ,000 meters) from the 
old village. Some fifty new family houses were con- 
structed, accompanied by several public buildings 
Corgensen 1 990:1 54-7). These buildings were erected 

in regularly arranged rows, with no linear connection 
to the main axis of the old village. Some families, nev- 
ertheless, chose to stay in their old houses close to the 
western beach. As a result, the overall area now occu- 
pied by the community has increased almost tenfold. 
The system of the "old" and "new" village sites (almost 
thirty years old now) is likely to be preserved for years, 
since several family houses in the "old village" have 
been remodeled and even upgraded for continuous 

The Social Construction of Landscape 

As change swept through the village of Sivuqaq/ 
Gambell, outside visitors and Native residents kept re- 
markably different images of the same site. To outsid- 
ers, it was a chaotic conglomerate of clumsy skin-houses, 
lumber cabins, and boat-racks arranged in irregular group- 
ings and "straggling rows." For the residents, their vil- 
lage was a highly organized universe, a network of 
well-defined and tightly knit units and neighborhoods 
that influenced every form of subsistence and social 
activity. In analyzing historical narratives, one has to 
grasp and reconcile those two different mental con- 
structions. Unfortunately, early visitors left few refer- 
ences to the spatial composition of the traditional com- 
munity, whereas the residents' perspective on the orga- 
nization of their village was not documented until re- 
cently. The first Native account of life in Sivuqaq/ 
Gambell in the early 1900s was published in 1985 
(Sivuqam 1985:10-17, Lloyd Oovi's narrative and 
map), while another critical resource, a village cen- 
sus and map made by Paul Silook in 1 930, remained 
virtually unknown until few years ago (see Akuzilleput 

Outsiders until the early 1900s (Moore 1923) did 
not recognize the core element of the village social 
order, the patrilineal clans (ramket). Otto Geist made 
some vague references to "sections," into which the 
traditional village of Sivuqaq/Cambell was divided; 
these "sections" were reportedly occupied by families 
"[that were] closely related by blood or by communal 



66/Cambell's landscape as of summer 1 930, with a modernized lumber house, drying racks, boats, and remains 
of a bowhead whale hunt in the foreground. 

interests" (Ceist and Rainey 1936:1 1). Today's elders 
remember such clusters of houses occupied by related 
families as the way their community was organized 
spatially and socially in their childhood years (Akuzilleput 
2002:400, 407-8): 

The relatives, the clans used to live close 
together all the time, from the old days. 
Pugughileghmlit tried to stay together and 
Sanighmelnguut on the other side" (Kepelgu/ 
Willis Walunga, 1999). 

As far as 1 remember, we lived together with 
my grandparents from my mother's side. My 
grandfather's name was Temkeruu. . . . The 
nearest house to us was (that of) Aatghilnguq, 
my grandfather's younger brother, and his 
family close-by. And another nearby house 
was of other close relative, Qanenguq. And 
Mangtaquli, another close relative, was close- 
by too. But Aatghilnguq, my grandfather's 
younger brother and family, was the most 
close to us (Avalak/Beda Slwooko, 1999). 

I think, most of the families, the clans tried to 
stick together. But after this big storm, when 
many houses were destroyed, they started 
moving their houses to the higher grounds. 
Since that time, it somehow started to be 
taken apart [the close kin residencies] 

(Akulki/Conrad Oozeva, 1999). 

The spatial position of residential kin neighborhoods 
was not documented until the exact location of most 
of the family houses revealed in Paul Silook's and Lloyd 
Oovi's maps had been checked against village cen- 
suses of 1 91 0, 1 920, and 1 930. In the early 1 900s, the 
village consisted of at least six such neighborhoods. 
At the southern end, there was a group of skin-houses 
belonging to the Qiwaaghmiit clan, originally from Si- 
beria. Slightly to the north of the Qiwaaghmiit, families 
from two villages abandoned after the famine of 1 878- 
80, Nasqaq [Nasqaghmiit] and Nangu-pagaq 
[Nangupagaghmiit], formed their own tiny neighbor- 
hood. When the Qiwaaghmiit moved to reindeer camps 
following the flood of 1914, the site occupied by the 
Nasqaghmiit and the Nangupagaghmiit became the 
"new" southern end of the village. 

Members of the Pugughileghmlit clan built at least 
two more separated house clusters closer to the old 
beach area and farther north of the Nangupagaghmiit- 
Nasqaghmiit residences. Both clusters were abandoned 



after 1914, when several houses were washed away 
by storms. The Pugughileghmiit then moved their 
houses to the central area near the school building. 
The area to the north of the old schoolhouse was oc- 
cupied by a large neighborhood of the Sanighmelnguut 
clan, also from Siberia. Finally, the northern end of the 
historic village was the residential area of the small 
Uwaaliit clan (literally, "the northernmost people"). A 
few smaller house groups belonging to other clans 
created additional tiny neighborhoods. 

Similar clan-based residential neighborhoods ex- 
isted in many Yupik communities in Siberia, from which 
several Gambell clans had originated. In the Siberian 
Yupik villages, clans or clan sub-sections (close family 
groups or lineages) exerted substantial territorial con- 
trol over many components of the village landscape 
(Krupnik and Chlenov 1 997). These included the boat- 
racks area; sites for underground meat storages, boat 
launching, and landing at the beach; areas for clan and 
family/lineage rituals off the main village; places where 
sled dogs were kept; and lineage and/or clan sections 
in village graveyards. Such a spatial organization prob- 
ably existed in a similarly organized community of 
Sivuqaq/Gambell during the late 1 800s and early 1 900s. 
It could be reconstructed from today elders' memories 
and stories passed from older generations. 

There is surprisingly little indication in the early 
records of any higher form(s) of socio-territorial divi- 
sion in the community, other than clan and kin residen- 
tial neighborhoods. William F. Doty, the schoolteacher 
in 1 898-1 900, made a brief reference to two "factions" 
in the village, one which was affiliated by marriage 
with the "Indian Point Natives," or the people from the 
Yupik village of Ungaziq on the Siberian mainland. 
These two factions, reportedly, "two or three years ago 
[were] on the verge of fighting, but at present appear to 
respect a truce" (Doty 1 900:1 89). The lack of evidence 
is even more puzzling, as present-day elders have strong 
memories of two former "halves" of their old village, 
the Akingaghmiit {people of the southern side) and the 
Uwatangaghmiit{peop\e of the "farther," or northern side) 

that existed during the early- and mid-1 900s (Akuzilleput 

The side to the north of the old school building, 
of the central place was called Uwatanga, 
uwatangaghmii, and the other side, the southern 
side was called Akinga, akingaghmii. 
Uwatangaghmiit—Akingaghmiit. Our family was 
from the Akingaghmiit, from the southern side 
(Anaggun/Ralph Apatiki, Sr., 1 999). 

That was how we remembered the old village 
[of Gambell]... They probably made this 
division between the north and the south side 
to make it easier to describe (the village), to 
understand. Otherwise, it would be one whole 
big village (Akuiki/ Conrad Oozeva, 1 999). 

Because the old schoolhouse was so small, 
every time they had to bring people together, 
one half of the village goes in one hour and 
then another side, the southern side (of the 
village) goes in another hour. Our family was 
included into the "northern side" (Kepelgu/ 
Willis Walunga, 1999). 

Such a "south-north" opposition created a well-balanced 
spatial system, similar to the one that existed in the 
largest Siberian Yupik communities, Ungaziq (Chaplino, 
Indian Point) and Nevuqaq (Naukan— see Krupnik and 
Chlenov 1 997). The space "in between" thus made the 
ideal spatial center, the most logical village public 
space. This central place in historic Sivuqaq/Gambell 
was indeed the favorite community site for wrestling, 
racing, and other athletic competitions (Fig. 67); it was 
called Qellineq ("something that gets packed down from 
pressure"). In /A/ct/z/7/epwf (2002:406) it is described thus: 

In the middle of the (old) village, somewhere 
in this area, there was a place called Qellineq. 
It was the place where they all got together 
for wrestling, weight-lifting, running. There 
were rocks for lifting. But this place is gone 
now, all gone (Kepelgu/Willis Walunga, 1999). 

We lived very close to the center of the 
village, to the old school building. They used 
to have a place there, it is "old" new houses 
now. . . . where the young people used to 
build their muscles. It had a lot of big-size 
rocks and also a big circle where they used to 
run. This place was something like an annex 
near the old school building. . . . And many 
other people in these old days, they wake up 



67/ Two men wrestle, while other villagers watch nearby, atQellineq, the traditional village public space near the 
"old school" building in Sivuqaq/Cambell, St. Lawrence Island, 191 2. 

early in the morning and run to that central 
area, every morning. Just to watch younger 
people running or wrestling or doing some- 
thing (else) (Avalak/Beda Slwooko, 1999). 

One of the most favored men's pastimes at the qellineq 
ground, beyond wrestling and racing around a special 
running circle (aqfaquq), was rock-lifting. A set of huge 
round-shaped boulders used as lifting stones was once 
a remarkable social feature of Gambell landscape 
(Moore, 1 923:365; Akuzilleput, 2002;1 94); 

The traditional recreation area (Qellineq) used 
to be where the elementary school is now 
located. There were a lot of big round-shaped 
rocks (uyghaget). These rocks each weighed 
from 60 to 400 pounds each. Maybe even more. 
These rocks were brought there by only one 
man, Neghqun. He must have been very strong 
because the rocks he carried were huge (Lloyd 
Oovi in Sivuqam 1 985;1 2-1 3). 

Reconstructing Other Components of 
Sivuqaq Ethnographic Landscape 

Other landmarks in and beyond the historic village site 
were parts of shared ethnographic landscape created 

by the community over the years. The beach and the 
surf zone was always the key component of the vil- 
lage area, as men launched their hunting boats almost 
every morning and brought the animals they killed to 
butcher, process, and to share the food. The beaches 
off the historic village have different names: Aywaa or 
Paamna, on the northern side, and Uughqa or Saamna 
(literally "south side, one down below"), along the west- 
ern shore. The storage racks for skin-boats (Angyilghat) 
were built both to the west and north of the tip of the 
cape called Singikrak. Three names were used for sec- 
tions of the beach area: Imun, the lower zone behind 
the first beach ridge that flooded during the high storms 
only; Aatneq, the surf area where children played; and 
Qaasqaq, the highest portion of the beach (pers. com., 
Kepelgu/Willis Walunga 2001; Fig. 68). The boat-rack 
area was also used for special spring offering ceremo- 
nies, eghqwaaq, performed separately by each kin-based 
boat crew (Sivuqam 1989:162-3). 

The beach was the main focus of community daily 
life for most of the year, but other areas were used 



farther away from shore. Children needed a place to 
play, and women always looked for places to gather 
water, collect grass, greens, and berries, and discard refuse. 
The dead had to be buried. Many family and clan ritu- 
als were performed outdoors, often at a significant dis- 
tance from the village. Finally, there was a need for 
both physical and social place for community enter- 
tainment, sport events, and meetings with visitors and 
guests. In the "old times," there was the never-ending 
need for community defense against raids from other 
island villages and from nearby Siberia, requiring a sys- 
tem of look-outs and fortified positions in case of en- 
emy attack, and protected shelters for defense. Addi- 
tional "defense perimeter" was created by dog-sled teams 
carefully positioned on the village outskirts, so that 
the main community area was literally encircled by the 
guarding ears of the sled dogs (pers. com., Branson 
Tungiyan 2001 ). 

The site of the old underground houses {Nenglulluget) 
south of the village was famous for its tall grass, picked 
in summer by women and girls and used as insula- 
tion inside the roofs and walls of skin winter houses 
{Sivuqam 1 989:1 02-4). Farther south, and at some dis- 
tance from the historic village, lies a former meeting 
place for the Pugughileghmiit, people who lived in the 
village of Pugughileq, at Southwest Cape. William F. 
Doty (1900:206, 231) described witnessing a compli- 
cated ceremony of greeting the visiting Pugughileghmiit 
in the fall of 1 898. A special place used for community 
ball games was once located "in back of the village." 
There, men would play against men with a wooden 
ball, and girls against boys using a softball (ibid. :1 93; 
Silook 1 976:24; Sivuqam 1 985:22-3). When visitors from 
Siberia arrived at Cambell, ball games usually occurred 
in three locations: at the southern end of the west beach 
{al<ingan qaasqaa), north beach {uwatangan qaasqaa), 
and east of the village (tunutangani [the back area]; 
Sivuqam 1 987:1 38-9). Other sites for wrestling and rac- 
ing competitions were located at the western beach, 
at the central area (Qellineq), and along the northern 
shore. The circular route for foot-racing, Kilgaaqu, nearly 

two miles long, was an important component of the 
local landscape. During the summer, "often parties of 
fifteen to thirty [men and youth] may be seen running 
upon this track" (Moore 1923:364). 

There was a special place for arrow-shooting prac- 
tice, off the "old village" site (Nenglulluget) called 
Pitegseghaghvik (pers. com., Kepelgu/Willis Walunga 
2001 ). Collins referred to "three rows of jumping stones" 
(nanghiissat) located on top of the Cambell Mountain, 
about two miles from the village. According to his Yupik 
assistants, those stones were once used by young men 
while training to become runners or strong warriors 
(Collins 1 937:354-5). A documentary made in 1930 and 
preserved at the National Anthropological Archives, 
Smithsonian Institution, shows Collins' assistants duly 
demonstrating such training practices. 

Little information exists on the location of the com- 
munal graveyard before the move to the historic vil- 
lage. Cambell, the first teacher between 1 894 and 1 897, 
claimed that 

formerly the dead were interred near the 
houses; later they were placed in a cave(?) or 
an old house, of which there are three or 
more now partly filled with bones. Now when 
a death occurs, . . . four to ten men drag the 
body over the ground about a mile to a rocky 
bluff 600 feet high. Children are placed at the 
foot and important persons near the top, while 
those of low degree are stationed midway 
(Cambell 1898:143). 

Ceist reported the same distribution of individual 
burial sites along the mountain slope during the 
1 920s (Ceist and Rainey 1 936:30). The present-day 
community graveyard is located at the same place, 
about one-and-a-half miles from the historic village, 
on the rocky slope of the Sevu-okuk Mountain. There 
is even a reference to the special "suicide place" 
east of the village, where people used to end their 
life near a big rock, brought from the mountain by a 
strong man, Neghqun (Sivuqam 1 989:1 67). 

Otto Ceist, who spent the winter of 1928-1929 
in Cambell, referred to 

several places of worship . . . located at 



many places between the cape mountain 
and the village, particularly near the shore of 
the lake. All had small fireplaces often 
containing freshly charred wood. Offerings 
[to the deceased ancestors] were put under 
large rocks, with several reindeer skulls and 
antlers from Siberia and polar bear skulls left 
at these places by worshippers (Geist and 
Rainey 1936:30). 

Such family or, more often, lineage ritual sites were 
used for the fall memorial ceremonies, AghqesaghWq. 
In Siberia, each Yupik village had several family sites 
or a whole area with many sites located close by 
(Krupnik 2001 b: 307-1 5). These sites were still in use 
in Sivuqaq/Cambell during the 1 930s (Fig. 69), as seen 

from the following story: 

Ataayaghhaq would often go to offer 
sacrifices (aghqesaghtutuuq) down [from the 
old village] where the new housing is now 
(about 1 50 yards north of Troutman Lake). 
The altar [ritual site (aghqesaghtughvik)] was 
along the lake shore somewhere between 
where Anangiq's and Kegyuuqen's houses 
are now. Ataayaghhaq never used matches 
to start a fire at his altar. . . .Ataayaghhaq 
would let us know when he was going to be 
doing these things. He would call only 
youngsters to come along on his sacrificing 
trips. Our family place of sacrifice was around 
Tapeghaq [a site by the lake] (Nuughnaq/ 
Ruby Rookok, 1984; Sivuqam 1987:145-7). 

Evidence of the ancient fortifi- 
cations and defense structures 
was seen in the remains of old 
whale jaws "jutting out from the 
sand between the sea and the 
lake" east of the historic vil- 
lage. These bones were report- 
edly the few surviving remnants 
of many such jaws erected as a 
barricade for protection in case 
of invasion by the Siberian 
people (Geist and Rainey 
1936:26). Another old defen- 
sive structure noted by Collins 
(n.p.) was made of whale jaws 
to the south from the village 
(Akuzilleput2QQ2:227). Today's 
residents still remember stories 
heard from elders about an old 
"fortress" of whale jaw bones 
(maniitet)— now completely 
destroyed— that was once 
built near the lake, so as not 
be seen from the beach. It was 
reportedly surrounded with 

68/ Map of Sivuqaq/Cambell 
area, with major local place 
names, drawn by Willis 
Walunga, 2001. 

/tp/<^(r^/ zoo I 



stone walls and used as a shelter in case of an attack 
from the sea (Eskimo Heritage Program 1 979). Stories 
about such raids by boatloads of warriors from Siberia 
figure prominently in the folklore of the Sivuqaghhmiit, 
the people of Cambell (Silook 1 976:4, 1 1 3-4). 

A network of historic trails was another important 
component of the local ethnographic landscape. Al- 
though most transportation was done by boat (in sum- 
mer) and dogsled (in winter), there were several estab- 
lished traditional trails, some with special names that 
connected the village of Gambell with the nearby settle- 
ments (see Sivuqam] 989: 1 76-9). 

The adjacent seascape— with its system of shore 
currents, tides, ice leads, and established hunting ar- 
eas—featured prominently in both physical and cul- 
tural environment. The sea and ice off Gambell, where 
major subsistence hunting occurred, was watched con- 
stantly; and it was the focus of daily talks, community 
concerns, valued cultural expertise, and knowledge 
transmission. Dozens of local terms identified every 
variation in sea, ice, and weather conditions, including 
many terms for types of shore ice and beach ice forma- 
tions {Sikumengllu Eslamengllu 2004). 

Local ethnographic landscape and seascapes were 
also filled with dozens of personal and place names, as 
well as with innumerable stories and shared memories. 
Such an oral tradition— the body of transmitted stories, 
memories, names, and images— was the "core" of every 
documented cultural environment built through gen- 
erations of human occupation, use, storytelling, and 
spiritual affiliation. Transmitted via shared narratives, it 
helped maintain a strong bond between the commu- 
nity and its utilized space (Fair 1 999:29). Several dozen 
old place names, stories about the origins of the vil- 
lage of Sivuqaq/Gambell, and other historic sites in the 
area have been recorded (Sivuqam 1985,1987, 1989; 
Akuzilleput 2002; Yupik Language 1 989). Many are still 
recalled by today's elders and are now used in Yupik 
cultural curriculum at the Gambell village school. 

Finally, every successive ethnographic landscape 
was always but a segment of a larger cognized space 

—physical, social, and spiritual— in the minds of its 
residents. Before 1878, when St. Lawrence Island was 
densely populated, earlier ethnographic landscapes had 
been obviously construed as a network of smaller 
spaces belonging to individual villages. Of those, 
Sivuqaq/Gambell and its nearby communities, such as 
Meregta, Nangupagaq, Nasqaq, as well as more distant 
villages like Kukuiek, Pugughileq, were the key ele- 
ments of the islanders' cultural universe. The situation 
changed dramatically after all other settlements on the 
islands were abandoned after 1 880. That left the area 
around today's Gambell as the only viable social land- 
scape on the island. Nevertheless, the tradition related 
to the old sites survived, and many abandoned vil- 
lages were quickly restored as family hunting and fish- 
ing camps. Subsequently, these "other places" were re- 
incorporated into the village ethnographic landscape 
of the late 1 800s and early 1 900s. They remained the 
sites of family and clan origins and identity; the focus 
of constant longing, personal attachment, detailed lo- 
cal knowledge, and of innumerable narratives transmit- 
ted over generations. 

That traditional ethnographic landscape changed 
dramatically when the Yupik people of St. Lawrence 
Island, once followers of traditional shamanistic world- 
views, became devoted Presbyterian Christians, mainly 
during the 1920s and 1930s Oolles 2002). There are 
few references to those earlier spiritual landscapes where 
humans shared the land and the sea with various game 
spirits, "site masters," malignant spirits, wghneghat, and 
other supernatural beings. One can draw certain paral- 
lels with the way(s) the Yupik people in Siberia re- 
garded their universe up to the 1 950s and even in the 
1 980s (Krupnik and Vakhtin 1 997:243). 

Evolution of Sivuqaq/Gambell Ethnographic 

Henry B. Collins, a Smithsonian archaeologist, was the 
first to outline an almost 2,000-year sequence of an- 
cient occupational sites and major related cultural 
stages at and around Gambell (Collins 1931:138-42, 



69/ Traditional sacrificial site at the outskirts of Sivuqaq/Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, 1 930. 

1937:32-5). Collins' approach may be used to build a 
similar framework in the evolution of local ethnographic 
landscape(s) that followed transition in cultural/occu- 
pational stages. Of course, such a synopsis of changes 
in local ethnographic landscape is a product of many 
guesses. The main challenge here is to find the way 
and proper justification for one to identify contigu- 
ous stages in an age-long transition versus what may 
be regarded as separate (independent) landscapes. 
This issue will be addressed at the very end of this 

Whatever scenario may seem plausible to an out- 
sider ethnohistorian, it would never be the only ver- 
sion available, as the saga of village history has— and 
probably always had— several interpretations. Some 
gaps between the scientists' records and the narratives 
shared by today's residents of Sivuqaq/Gambell (only 
a small portion of which is written down and available 
in English) can be bridged. Other discrepancies, par- 
ticularly with regard to absolute dates, the size of the 
pre-contact island population, and the links between 

ancient and more recent communities would be harder 
to accommodate. Likewise, the story of the "early days" 
in Sivuqaq/Gambell area and of people's relations to 
the surrounding landscape remains a work in progress 
in the minds of its residents and in anthropologists' 
writing alike. 

Old "Prehistoric" Sites (Mayughaaq, Ayveghyaget) 

The people of Sivuqaq evidently preserved some 
historical tradition related to many abandoned an- 
cient sites in the area by the time both Collins and 
Geist started their work in 1 927-1 930. Ancient sites' 
names were quickly recorded and a few stories re- 
lated to the old villages were documented (e.g., Geist 
and Rainey 1936:12). Those ancient sites are still 
featured in some narratives related to the origins of 
the community of Sivuqaq/Gambell {Sivuqam 
1989:178-9). The site names, however, are recent 
rather than age-old place names and are clearly 
based on words from the present-day St. Lawrence 
Island Yupik language. Similarly, no present-day clan 



traces its origins to those ancient sites; nor have 
any former associated clan names been reported. 
The continuity gap notwithstanding, the ruins of 
ancient sites around Sevuokuk Mountain and stories 
related to them were somehow (re)incorporated into 
the local ethnographic landscape of the late 1800s 
and early 1 900s— as they obviously are today. 

The Siqiuwaghyaget Village (1 500 to 1 700) 

Surprisingly, no similar stories have been recorded re- 
garding the later village site near the Nayvaaq 
(Troutman) Lake that was reportedly populated until 
the 1 SOOs-l 700s (cf. Collins 1 937:1 89). No present clan 
or family on the island traces its origins to former resi- 
dents of the village. Evidently, no viable oral tradition 
related to the Siqiuwaghyaget community was around 
even seventy years ago, when both Collins and Geist 
searched for stories about early area settlements. This 
is the most stunning gap in the area's continuity; save 
any focused effort by today's elders to retrieve stories 
they once heard from their forefathers, that old ethno- 
graphic landscape is lost. 

The "Old Site"(l700s to the 1850s) 

Very little is remembered of the later community known 
as Manighmiit that resided in several underground 
houses closer to the beach and south of the historic 
village of the 1 900s. The only observation of that com- 
munity belonged to a Russian Navy captain. Otto von 
Kotzebue (1 81 7), offering hardly any clue to the physi- 
cal and social setting of the time (Kotzebue 1821:195- 
6, cited in Collins 1937:21). Still, some elders of today 
claim that their grandparents or great-grandparents were 
born at the "old site" with the underground dwellings, 
Nenglulluget, and, hopefully, some memories of that 
old landscape may still be recorded. 

The Pre-famine "Historic Village" (before 

We know some general facts about the size, physical 

shape, and the composition of the pre-famine com- 
munity and of its landscape. The village was then quite 
big and located slightly more to the south, compared 
to the village of the 1 900s. It was already composed of 
several clans and clan residential neighborhoods, and 
was undergoing a rapid transition from semi-subterra- 
nean houses (nenglu) to surface skin-covered dwell- 
ings (maiigteghapil<). Thanks to increased contacts with 
whaling ships after 1 850, lumber was brought in, so that 
the first wooden constructions appeared. 

The most important transformation was probably a 
spreading-out and a gradual northward advance of the 
more compact earlier settlement. It was advanced by 
the arrival of several distinct clan groups, such as the 
Pugugliileghmiit, "people from Pugughileq" at the South- 
west Cape, and the Aymaraml<et dan from Siberia. Both 
groups obviously built their separate clan neighbor- 
hoods away from the earlier "old site." 

There is little chance, however, that we can recon- 
struct the pre-famine ethnographic landscape in any 
detail, unless some yet unknown documentary records 
are available. We know almost nothing about the way 
the village was organized before the famine and where 
the houses of those who perished and of those who 
survived have been located. Elders of today are reluc- 
tant to share the old "famine stories," reportedly, be- 
cause their parents and grandparents were unwilling to 
talk to them about that tragic experience. 

The "Preschool" Village (1880 to 1894) 

There are many more general references and little spe- 
cific data about the village landscape during the short 
period between the famine and the arrival of the first 
teachers in 1 894. Many old houses and several sec- 
tions of the early "historic village" might have been 
abandoned, as their residents perished during the fam- 
ine. New houses were built and new clan neighbor- 
hoods were established by survivors from other island 
villages and by Siberian migrants. Based on today's 
fragmentary narratives, the post-famine village was 
more a combination of isolated kin (clan) hamlets than 



70/ Beach area in Sivuqaq/Cambell in 1 889, witin sun 
tineir sl<in roofs removed for summer drying of the fit 

the coherent settlement known from the later days. 
The northernmost group, the Uwaliit, lived almost one 
kilometer apart from the southernmost cluster of houses 
at the opposite end of the village area. Many empty 
spaces were available (Fig. 70), which were readily oc- 
cupied by the incoming clans, with each group trying 
to create the network of subsistence, storage, ritual, 
and burial areas of its own. 

The "Skin-house" Village (1894 tol9l4) 

This is the first ethnographic landscape of the past for 
which several records exist, including narratives of early 
schoolteachers, historical photographs, village censuses 
with personal names (of 1900 and 1910), and elders' 
memories. The village of Gambell around 1 905 had at 
least three main residential neighborhoods or big house 
clusters standing quite apart from each other (Sivuqam 
1985:10-25). Most probably, the new schoolhouse 
erected close to the central area (Qellineq) gradually 
emerged as a center of social gravity and community 
integration. As more and more winter skin-dwellings 
were built closer to this new core area, the community 
started to look more like an integrated village. 

r tents, storage racks, and winter wooden houses, with 

Overall, the landscape of the early 1900s can be 
reconstructed with substantial details, including personal 
stories related to activities and events at specific areas. 
The stories are still shared by today's elders, despite 
the fact that many sections of the early ! 900s village 
were destroyed through the flood of 1 91 4, beach ero- 
sion, and house relocation. 

The "Early Lumber-house" Village (1914 to 

This is presently the core ethnographic landscape of 
the so-called "historic village" that is solidly docu- 
mented in many photographs, village censuses, and 
elders' narratives. Its basic spatial feature was the bipo- 
lar and almost linear structure of the village, with the 
schoolhouse and the community area, Qellineq, at its 
center. Several new houses had been built at and around 
this central public area, so that by the late 1 920s there 
was no visible gap between the Uwatangaghmiitinonh- 
ern) and Akingaghmiit (southern) sections of the vil- 
lage. Both sections consisted of several clans and fam- 
ily/lineage groups. 

Several areas and structures outside the main vil- 



lage were critical elements of this ethnographic land- 
scape, such as the village cemetery, racing and meet- 
ing places, sacrificial sites, trails, and various public spaces 
(see above). Whereas many of these features have been 
physically destroyed, the virtual landscape is still re- 
membered in exquisite detail by many today's elders, 
born during the early 1 900s. 

The Lumber-house Village (1935 to 1 948) 

That village is similarly well remembered by an even 
greater number of today's seniors. Some evidence ex- 
ists that its social landscape became more simplified, 
as fewer traditional rituals in and particularly out of the 
village have been performed (Sivuqam 1985:52-3). 
Racing, wrestling, and other traditional athletic com- 
petitions became less common, replaced by church 
ceremonies and July Fourth public celebrations. The 
end of regular summer visits from Siberia eliminated 
another key element of village communal life, together 
with the sites and areas used for it. 

Modernized "Old Village" (1940s to early 

This was another short-lived landscape that underwent 
rapid transformation. The construction of new housing 
for the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), a per- 
manent airstrip, and two military camps outside the vil- 
lage introduced some new and alien components to 
the local setting. 

Despite that, the village of the 1 950s and 1 960s 
still had a general look of a traditional Native com- 
munity (see pictures in Hughes 1960; Bandi 1984; 
Wicker 1993), although parts of its traditional land- 
scape were quickly eroding. Construction of the new 
schoolhouse created a major dent in the center of 
the historic village site, as the old schoolhouse was 
torn down and the central public space, Qellineq, de- 
stroyed. The former wrestling and racing area was also 
taken away by the new school building, and the huge 
lifting stones were dumped outside the village. The 
elders reportedly kept gathering at the old public space; 

but little by little, this practice ceased as did daily ath- 
letic competitions, wrestling, and other traditional open- 
air activities. 

During that era, at least one traditional-like compo- 
nent was added to the local landscape at the beach and 
boat-rack area {Qaasqaq). When tractors and other heavy 
equipment became available in the 1950s, local whal- 
ing captains started to pull the heads of killed bow- 
head whales (skulls with jaw bones and baleen) onto 
the beach in front of their houses. There are currently 
eight groups of skulls and/or individual skulls with Jaw- 
bones along the boat-rack area. Each is remembered 
by the name (or family) of the captain who killed the 
whale. The skulls were left as "trophies," and no rituals 
were reportedly performed at their placements 
(Akuzilleput 2002:422). 

"New Village" (1 970 to present) 

Finally, construction of the "new village" on the gravel 
spit plain to the east of the historic village began in the 
1 970s. This created an entirely new ethnographic land- 
scape. Most of the village's public activities were relo- 
cated to a new communal space, Qemgughvik, near the 
new IRA building. The "new village," with its regular 
lines of modular housing units, made the former com- 
munity division of the Akingaglimiit and the Uwatangagh- 
m//r obsolete. Some of the new houses were built right 
at or very close to the old family ritual sites (Aghqesagh- 
tughviget) near the lake. Many former subsistence areas 
were abandoned, like collecting tall grass for house 
insulation. The underground meat-cellars went unused, 
and four-wheelers and snowmachines replaced dog 
teams. Yet, the community preserves its traditional beach 
and boat-rack area outside the historic village and the 
old graveyard on top of Sevuokuk Mountain. Several 
families also maintain residence or keep up their old 
houses at the "historic" site (Fig. 71 ). 

Discussion: Preserving Sivuqaq/Gambell 
Ethnographic Landscapes 

Such a multi-layer historical "stratigraphy" of the 



71/ Section of the "old village" of Sivuqaq/Gambell, 2001 . 

Sivuqaq/Gambell area offers certain guidelines, upon 
which the overall succession of its ethnographic land- 
scapes could be construed. If the continuity in com- 
munal life, in shared memories, and in people's identity 
is to be taken as the main criterion, the sequence of 
the post-1880, or the "pre-school," "pre-flood," "lum- 
ber-house," and the "modernized" village settings rep- 
resent stages in one "ethnographic landscape." That 
landscape, nevertheless, had incorporated elements 
of several earlier settings, including those from the an- 
cient communities that once lived at the Mayughaaq, 
Ayveghyaget, and Siqiuwaghyaget sites, with which 
the later residents of Sivuqaq/Gambell had hardly any 
direct ties. These old village sites represent remnants 
of the previous ancient landscapes. Of those, nothing 
but modern names, some physical traces, and a few 
related stories remain. 

Enough evidence exists to argue that a gruesome 
population loss during the famine of 1878-1880 
caused a huge gap in local landscape continuity. Al- 

though the community itself was quickly restored, it 
preserved but a fraction of the old residential popula- 
tion; the survivors were then mixed with and culturally 
incorporated by the various groups of migrants, who 
built a new social system (cf. Krupnik 1994). One sign 
of the new spatial order was the move of the vil- 
lage graveyard to a place some 1.5 miles away, to 
the slopes of the Sevuokuk Mountain. The emerg- 
ing linear shape and the "South-North" (Akingaghmiit- 
Uwatangaghmiit) division of the village site was another 
sign of a profound landscape reorganization caused 
by the famine. A similar break in landscape continuity 
took place almost a hundred years later, when the 
"new village" was constructed at its present site, al- 
most a mile away from the "old village." 

As newer types of dwellings gradually replaced 
older ones and the main village site moved several 
times over the centuries, many components of the ear- 
lier ethnographic landscapes were all but abraded, both 
physically and mentally. In this respect, the village of 



Sivuqaq/Cambell is hardly different from many historic 
towns and villages that weathered dramatic cultural 
change and historically insensitive development 
wrapped as "modernization. " Scores of such communi- 
ties made great progress in protecting their legacy via 
preservation efforts— restoring old buildings; bringing 
new residents and tourists to the once emptied streets. 
It is much harder, though, to recreate the mental or 
memory framework of the old landscape. Here, few 
protective or economic measures would suffice; rather 
a combination of policies is needed that will match 
preservation with cultural revitalization, education, and 
other public programs. The story of today's Sivuqaq/ 
Cambell is quite instructive in this regard. 

First, the village of Sivuqaq/Cambell, and St. Law- 
rence Island in general, underwent substantial changes 
in its legal status over the last thirty to fifty years. Once 
a Native territory, it came under the de facto U.S. Coast 
Guard supervision in the 1 880s and became a govern- 
ment reindeer reservation in 1903. The first system of 
local government, the IRA council (under the Indian 
Reorganization Act [IRA] of 1934) was established in 
1 939; the locally elected City Council (since 1 963) and 
Native Corporation supplemented it (since 1971, see 
Callaway and Pilyasov 1 993:27; Little and Robbins 1 984: 
53-8). Today, Sivuqaq/Cambell is, again, a self-admin- 
istered community, with almost all its land, surface, and 
subsurface resources administered by the local Native 
corporation owned by Native shareholders. 

Second, the physical connection of the community 
to its traditional village and the surrounding landscape 
remains basically unbroken. Most of today's residents 
cross the old village site every day when they go out 
hunting or come from the beach area. Several families 
continue to live at the "old village" permanently. Third, 
the present-day community is blessed by a very strong 
and dedicated group of elders, who are the guardians 
of local knowledge, cultural heritage, and of a thriving 
tradition of storytelling. Narratives about the "old vil- 
lage" are duly recalled; they are commonly shared, re- 
told in public, and taught at the local school under the 

Yupik language curriculum program (see below). Those 
stories remain a critical channel for community coher- 
ence and continuity. Fourth, the modern community of 
Sivuqaq/Cambell generally maintains the old social 
system on which it was founded, the clan and extended 
kin network. Several clan and family groups still iden- 
tify certain areas in the old village, or across the nearby 
landscape, as places of special value to their tradition. 
Thus, the old landscape contains not only a past heri- 
tage, but it persists as a fully functional terrain for today's 
living community. 

This view of local ethnographic landscape as a con- 
temporary functional cultural terrain is critical in de- 
signing any strategy for its preservation. Traditionally, 
attention has been focused on the protection of 
Cambell's unique archaeological sites. Native resi- 
dents, visiting diggers, and professional archaeologists 
in search of old artifacts and fossil ivory have long 
exploited those ancient sites. By 1 980, most archaeo- 
logical sites around Sivuqaq/Cambell were badly dam- 
aged by generations of excavations and unregulated 
digging (Crowell 1985, 1987). In 1988, five prehistoric 
sites at or around Cambell had lost their national land- 
mark status, because their archaeological and historic 
value had essentially been destroyed by artifact dig- 
ging activities. They are still listed on the National 
Register of Historic Places (Mobley 2001 :2). 

Little can stop "subsistence digging," as the island- 
ers' excavation of ancient sites is often called (Staley 
1993:348; Mobley 2001:2). All land on St. Lawrence 
Island is privately owned by the village corporations 
of Cambell and Savoonga, and no current federal or 
state antiquities laws apply to protect the island's ar- 
chaeological resources. Many elders acknowledge that 
unregulated digging is destroying the most valuable 
component of cultural heritage (Fig. 72); but no solu- 
tion is in sight unless other sources of income become 
available, as the sale of archaeological artifacts pro- 
vides critical income to many families (Crowell 1 987:2; 
Jorgensen 1990:172; Staley 1993:349). Competition 
over old artifacts and ivory also explains people's re- 



72/ Viewofthe former Siqiuwaghyaghet site, now almost destroyed by "subsistence digging," 2001 . 

sistance to any heritage regulations that may limit ac- 
cess to and freedom of excavation at the ancient sites. 

The preservation of the historic ethnographic land- 
scape is, however, a different story. No commercial value 
has been identified for the old village site and no out- 
side body challenges the Sivuqaq/Cambell village 
corporation's control over the land management in this 
area. Hence, the village corporation, in cooperation 
with the IRA council and the mayor's office, could es- 
tablish a regime aimed at protecting the old site. To- 
day, the corporation has no protection strategy for the 
historic village area; nor is there a shared recognition 
of its special cultural value. The shortage of funds, 
coupled with the elders' aversion to new construction, 
has saved the historic village from a large-scale reno- 
vation so far. Smaller efforts, however, are eagerly sup- 
ported, like the recent initiative in digging for old whale- 
bones for resale to commercial artists and souvenir 
shops on the mainland. Some land is also owned by 
agencies other than the village corporation, such as 
the airstrip area at the southern edge of the historic 

village, which are under the control of the Department 
of Transportation (Federal Aviation Administration). 
Plans exist to expand the village airstrip to make it 
suitable for bigger planes, but this construction would 
threaten the large section of the "old site " with remains 
of semi-subterranean houses near the lake. 

Beyond site protection, several other strategies may 
be used in historical landscape preservation at the "old 
town " of Sivuqaq/Cambell, such as: education; histori- 
cal documentation; community re-creation; creation of 
a local museum and/or cultural center; and regulated 
tourism. Even in a small town of 650 residents, this 
creates a challenging need for coordination, if not con- 
sensus, among many different local players. 

For example, cultural education is the prime respon- 
sibility of the Cambell village school system. It com- 
bines local elementary, middle, and high school; but it 
is placed under the overall supervision of the Bering 
Straits School District administration located some 500 
miles away, in the mainland town of Unalakleet. Since 
1 987-89, the Cambell school has established the Yupik 



Language and Culture Curriculum (Grades K-1 2) devel- 
oped by local educators. A highly knowledgeable and 
enthusiastic Yupik teacher, Christopher Koonooka, is 
currently teaching a Crade-9 course named "The His- 
tory of St. Lawrence Island" (including the history of 
Sivuqaq/CambeW), in one class per week. Unfortunately, 
no visual materials, such as historical photographs and 
old maps are used, and no teacher's guide is available. 
When talking to students, it is obvious that a few hours 
of classes hardly suffice to project elders' stories onto 
today's terrain and into the minds of those born in the 
very different setting of the modern village site. 

Many local programs, such as the Yupik Lan- 
guage and Culture Curriculum at the Gambell High 
School, the Eskimo Heritage Program of the 
Kawerak Inc. in Nome, and the regional Elders' 
Conferences could address documentation of the 
Sivuqaq/Gambell ethnographic landscape history. 
Some outside efforts may be helpful; individual 
scholarly research projects have much to contrib- 
ute, too. As this chapter illustrates, there is no 
shortage of both written and oral resources to docu- 
ment the local ethnographic landscape history, but 
no special brochure, catalog, or illustrated guide- 
book is available. Pending adequate funding, a 
popular history of local ethnographic landscape 
can be produced. It may be formatted as a re- 
gional heritage report; illustrated community 
sourcebook; a bilingual collection of elders' sto- 
ries; Native heritage curriculum; site-survey re- 
port; area ethnohistory; catalog of local place 
names— or any combination of the above (e.g., 
Akuzilleput 2002; Burch 1981; Fair this volume; 
Koutsky 1 981 ; Sivuqam 1 985; Ublasaun 1 996; Yupik 
Language 1 989). 

A re-creation (both physical and mental) of certain 
historic spaces and related activities is another estab- 
lished strategy to strengthen people's connection to 
their former cultural environment. The residents of 
Sivuqaq/Gambell had a successful experience in such 
a re-creation: in 1 976, as a part of the U.S. Bicentennial 

activities, they erected a modern replica of the 
mangteghapik, winter skin-house, and nenglu, old semi- 
subterranean house, at the southern end of the village. 
Both buildings were not maintained properly and even- 
tually went into disrepair. 

At present, the town of Sivuqaq/Gambell has nei- 
ther a local museum nor a cultural center to display its 
history and heritage, save a small exhibit of traditional 
ethnographic objects in glass cases at the village high 
school and an even smaller private display of archeo- 
logical artifacts at the main corporation building. Nei- 
ther is open on a regular basis, and neither feature old 
photographs or other images of the former historical 
landscape. Discussions about building a small local mu- 
seum or a community cultural center continue; but short- 
age of funds is prohibitive. With some imagination and 
local initiative, alternative strategies could be explored. 
A few abandoned winter houses of the 1 930s are still 
standing at the historic village site. The interiors can 
be restored and filled with traditional daily objects and 
historical photographs, perhaps hosting a display on 
the former ways of village life, a small tourist center 
(see below), or an educational facility for the history 
classes under the Yupik Language Curriculum. 

Finally, regulated commercial tourism could make 
a substantial contribution, by bringing needed funds, 
professional expertise, and public attention to the pres- 
ervation of the local ethnographic landscape. Since 
the early 1 990s, Gambell has been put on the route of 
many Arctic boat cruises; each year one or more tourist 
ships visit the town and unload dozens, sometimes, 
hundreds of tourists onto its streets. Usually, the tour- 
ists are taken to the public meeting place, Qemgughvik, 
at the "new village," where they are entertained by the 
village dancing team, often followed by a spontaneous 
trade in ivory carvings and other craft souvenirs, and 
by the tour to the old site, offered by local residents. 
The town, however, has no brochure or historical booklet 
to offer to its visitors; nor is there a program for guide 
training, established historical tours, or consistent tour 
narrative. The village corporation is the prime agency 



to manage tourist activities and to authorize further 
investment to make better use of local historical re- 
sources. So far, very little groundwork has been done, 
and no assistance has been sought from the National 
Park Service and many individual researchers, who hap- 
pened to work in the community. 


The village of Sivuqaq/Cambell on St. Lawrence Island 
offers a remarkable set of ancient and recent ethno- 
graphic landscapes in various stages of preservation. It 
has rich archaeological resources, with a 2,000-year 
record of culture change that is backed by solid scien- 
tific excavation and thoroughly documented museum 
collections. It enjoys abundant historical photography 
and is home to a thriving Native community, one that 
is strong in its cultural roots and in knowledgeable 
elders. For the first time in decades, this community is 
now in control of its land and has the rights to protect 
and to manage its historical resources. 

At the same time, the village of Sivuqaq/Cambell 
offers an excellent testing ground in what could be 
done to preserve Native ethnographic landscapes across 
the North; how this could be done; and why very little 
has been done so far to advance such preservation. 
Because of the island's specific legal status, no state 
and federal heritage protection regime is in place to 
exert outside pressure. It remains for the local commu- 
nity to take full responsibility and install the system of 
heritage efforts it deems desirable. 

Today, the people of Sivuqaq/Cambell possess the 
legal rights, cultural knowledge, and the awareness they 
need for such a mission. It is almost like a "blank check" 
to be invested in community heritage preservation; but 
it will not be valid for a long time. Whereas govern- 
mental agencies are looking for strategies to protect 
local ethnographic landscapes, it is the story in Sivuqaq/ 
Cambell and in many other Native communities across 
the North— that really matters. Whether this is going to 
be a story of community success or failure, it is worth 


This reconstruction of Sivuqaq/Gambell's ethnographic 
landscapes is based on an approach developed during 
an earlier ethnohistorical survey of traditional Yupik 
communities in Siberia (1975-1987), undertaken with 
anthropologist Michael Chlenov. I also received en- 
couragement and inspiration from Ernest S. Burch Jr., 
who has proved that 200-year-old Native cultural land- 
scapes could be successfully reconstrued via painstak- 
ing examination of ethnohistorical records and elders' 
narratives (Burch 1 981 ; 1 998). The study of Cambell land- 
scapes emerged as an outgrowth of an earlier coopera- 
tive heritage project (1998-2000), sponsored by the 
National Science Foundation (OPP #9812981). I owe 
special gratitude to Willis Walunga//<e/?e/^w of Cambell, 
who introduced me to the riches of his community's 
history and who was my major source of local exper- 
tise ever since. I also want to thank many current and 
former residents of Cambell Stephen Aningayou/ 
Kiistivik , Ralph Apatiki Sr.,/ Anagguh, Ora Cologerngen/ 
Ayuqi , Clarence Irrigoo/M/mg/w, Hansen Irrigoo/ 
Pulaaghuh, Winfredjames//<ww/w , Conrad Oozeva/Akulki, 
Raymond Oozevuseuk/ Awetaq, Beda Slwooko//4i/a/a/c, 
and Branson Tungiyan/L/n^w^/t/ . They were very gener- 
ous in sharing their historical knowledge and personal 
memories. My colleagues, Aron Crowell, William 
Fitzhugh, Ingegerd Holand, Tonia Horton, Rachel Ma- 
son, Charles Mobley, and Cara Seitchek offered valu- 
able comments and criticism. The study was accom- 
plished thanks to the support of the Arctic Studies Cen- 
ter, Smithsonian Institution; Cambell IRA Council; and 
Western Arctic National Parklands office of the National 
Park Service in Nome. 


1. This paper was written in 2000-2001 as a 
follow-up to the St. Lawrence Island Yupik Heritage 
project (Akuzilleput 2002). More discussions of 

Cambell's history and social system may be found 
in several recent publications, including Blumer 2002, 
Jolles 2002, Mason 1998, Mason and Barber 2003, 
Mudar and Speaker 2003. 



Akuzilleput Igaqullghet 

2002 Akuzilleput Igaqullghet. Our Words Put to Pa- 
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Igor Krupnik, Willis Walunga and Vera Metcalf, ed. 
Contributions to Circumpolar Anthropology 3. Wash- 
ington, DC: Arctic Studies Center, Smithsonian Insti- 

Bandi, Hans-Georg 

1984 Algemeine Einfuhrung und Graberfunde bei 
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Blumer Reto, 

2002 Radiochronological Assessment of Neo-Es- 
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Burgess, Stephen M. 

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Callaway, Donald C, and Alexander Pilyasov 

1993 A Comparative Analysis of the Settlements of 
Novoye Chaplino and Cambell. Polar Record 

Collins, Henry B. 

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the Arctic Studies Center archives, Smithsonian In- 

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1937 Archeology of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. 
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Crowell, Aron L 

1985 Archaeological survey and site composition 
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1987 The Economics of Site Destruction on St. 

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Wolcott, Vt. 
Doty, William F. 

1900 The Eskimo on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. 
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Eskimo Heritage Program 

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Fair, Susan W. 

1999 Place-Name Studies from the Saniq Coast. 
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Cambell, Vene C. 

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1910 The School house Farthest West. St. Lawrence 
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Geist, Otto W., and Froelich G. Rainey 

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Hooper, C.L. 

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Corwin in the Arctic Ocean. Washington, DC. 
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American Indians, Vol.5, Araic. D. Damas, ed., pp.262- 
77. Washington: Smithsonian Institution. 

Jackson, Sheldon 

1 903 Facts about Alaska. Its People, Villages, Mis- 
sions, Schools. New York: Woman's Board of Home 
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Jackson, Sheldon, comp. 

1898 {Seventh Annual) Report on Introduction of 
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Jolles, Carol Zane, with Elinor Oozeva 

2002 Faith, Food, and Family in a Yupik Whal- 
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ton Press. 

Jorgensen, Joseph J. 

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Koutsky, Kathryn 

1 981 Early Days on Norton Sound and Bering Strait. 



An Overview of Historic Sites in the BSNC Region. 
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2001a Beringia Yupik "Knowledge Repatriation" 
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2001 b Pust' govoriat nashi starlki. Rasskazyaziatskikh 
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Krupnik, Igor, and Michael Chlenov 

1997 Survival in Contact: Yupik (Asiatic Eskimo) 
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Krupnik, Igor, and Nikolay Vakhtin 

1997 Indigenous Knowledge in Modern Culture: Si- 
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Anthropology I A{\ ):236-52. 

Little, Ronald L, and Lynn A. Robbins 

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Mason, Owen K. 

1998 The Contest between the Ipiutak, Old 
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Mason, Owen K., and Valerie Barber 

2003 A Paleo-Geographic Preface to the Origins 
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1 923 Social Life of the Eskimo of St. Lawrence is- 
land. American Anthropologist 2 5(3):3 39-75 . 

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Porter, Robert P. 

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Silook, Roger S. 

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Lawrence Island. Anchorage. 
Sikumengllu Eslamengllu 

2004 Sikumengllu Eslamengllu Esghapalleghput - 
Watching Ice and Weather Our Way. Conrad Oozeva, 
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Sivuqam Nangaghnegha 

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Anders Apassingok, Willis Walunga, and Edward 
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Staley, David P. 

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(] 5? 4-5-2005) 

ill *y"ribute 


The field of anthropology harbors a cluster of many 
interests. It is afield that attracts many disciplines deeper 
into the depths of additional learning otherwise un- 
foreseen in the societies they represent. Anthropology 
has had its foot inside the mesh of arctic study for the 
last century, but it seems that only within the last four 
decades has a new generation of anthropologists be- 
gun to pave the road to human sciences that is proper 
to the culture and heritage of arctic people. There is 
always exceptional time involved in working with the 
Indigenous community; but the time spent will have 
formed lasting friendships that are rarely severed in the 
lifetime of a person. It is always a sad time when one is 
asked to produce a tribute about someone you have 
worked with, especially in a field that probes into the 
depths of your being and your culture. 

Sadness was certainly felt by many when word was 
received that Susan Wilhite Fair was no longer a part of 
the world that has been created in the universal effort 
to learn and understand northern cultures. I had not 
expected to work in depth with Sue, but I began work- 
ing with her following the unexpected passing in 1 997 
of her able colleague, Edgar Nunageak Ningeulook of 
Shishmaref, Alaska, a lifelong student of the culture 
and heritage of his people. Several of Sue's papers 
contain information that is intimate to the people of 
Shishmaref. Her early work as a manager in an art co- 
operative may have formed an interest to pursue stud- 
ies in folklore because from art begins a story, and 
from this Sue may have formed a solid interest to study 

the ways of northern people. In my understanding of 
Sue Fair, one of her greatest interests was in the place- 
names of the land that reverberated into realness in 
any land. The place-names were christened upon the 
land before time became numbers, and in the thoughts 
of the generations who know the names, they con- 
tinue to sing the gift to the people who knew that 
the land would provide for them. Thus, Sue knew 
and understood that the people had a special mean- 
ing with place. 

Sue blended herself well into her work. She under- 
stood the stories of the land that the people told dur- 
ing her work with people who are of the land (Fig. 73). 
She noted the statement of Edgar's mother, Hattie 
Ningeulook, when she included "These kinds of sto- 
ries they always tell, our parents and grandparents. They 
say that in those days past, the earth possesses them." 
Her note in what may be her final essay in "Eskimo 
Drawings" that "the comparison of written records with 
oral traditions is one of the most rewarding and pains- 
taking jobs of the folklorist and historian" is a lasting 
statement to anyone. 

Sue's work included other subjects that are also 
recognized as a part of the people among the people 
of the Bering Strait. In our existence, she saw that the 
effort to continue surviving in such a harsh land was a 
reality that the people continue to face, despite the 
new reality that the people are facing today. Sue had 
projects that are not finished; so some of the work that 
she began before her passing may never be completed. 


I saw Sue for the final time during the celebration and 
presentation of the Eskimo Drawings exhibit in IVlay 
2003. Sue, and I, and many distinguished participants 
had been approached by Dr. Suzi Jones of the Anchor- 
age jVluseum of History and Art to provide a paper that 
would enforce the forthcoming publication that was to 

Sue's experiences in the art world were extensive, 
and they include being the guest curator in several 
installations throughout Alaska. She was especially 
proud of her work in the Maniilaq Health Center in 
Kotzebue that was completed in 1 998, and the art and 
ethnographic displays in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health 
Center in Bethel. 

Sue was born in the nation's capitol, Washington, 
D.C., on June 22, 1 948. We found in the celebration of 
her life that her early education began in "southern 

Indiana public schools." She received her B.A. in An- 
thropology later in life than most from the University 
of Alaska in Anchorage, and she furthered her studies 
non-stop until she received her doctorate after com- 
pleting graduate studies in Folklore and Folklife at the 
University of Pennsylvania in 1994. Her dissertation 
was Native Art in the Public Eye: The Affirmation of Tra- 
dition, which was in press in 2002 as Alasl<a Native Art: 
Tradition, Innovation, Continuity. Sue served as adjunct 
or half-time professor of anthropology and art history 
in several locations with the University of Alaska. She 
most recently held a joint appointment with the En- 
glish Department, Southwest Center at the University 
of Arizona in Tucson. 

Dr. Susan Wilhite Fair passed away in Tucson, Ari- 
zona, on June 1, 2003. She is survived by one child, 
Michael Louis Kaputak Fair. 

73/ Susan Fair and Edgar Ningeulook (Susie 's collaborator, also deceased) interviewing Gideon Barr. 


\Jame5 of places, (^thcr'J^imcs: 

Remembering and [documenting [_ands and Landscapes 
near ^hisKmare f, Alaska 


These kinds of stories they always tell, our 
parents and grandparents. They say that in 
those days past, the earth possesses them. 
(Hattie Ningeulook, Shishmaref, 1981) 

The accurate, contextual, and comprehensive collec- 
tion of place-names (toponyms) and the enormously 
rich varieties of data associated with them must be a 
key force in the long-term preservation of Native eth- 
nographic landscapes, for the northern cultural, linguis- 
tic, and physical landscape is steadily changing, as it 
has always done. In the Inupiaq village of Shishmaref 
in Northern Alaska, many young people do not know 
the old toponyms, although some are inventing new 
place-names. Place-name study and resulting publica- 
tions (and maps) may ultimately serve to bond younger 
people with these lands, now within the boundaries of 
the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, an area of 
roughly two and three-quarter million acres managed 
by the U.S. National Park Service. Also, the barrier is- 
land upon which Shishmaref is located is rapidly being 
lost to the sea. Residents have voted to move. In a 
generation or two, the village itself may be a "memory 
landscape" preserved only in names and stories. 

This essay follows several previously published 
works written about place-naming around Shishmaref, 
Alaska (also referred to here as Kigiqtaq and the Saniq- 
Saniniq coast). I discuss here how our community-based 
collaborative Shishmaref research was conceived, how 
we conducted the work, and what, ultimately, will be 
produced with these data. During this project, we refer- 
enced many scholars who have collected and inter- 

preted place-names in various ways in the last century. 
While the information in most of those books and es- 
says remains classic, informative material, it includes 
only a fragment of the audiotaped and field-gathered 
information actually collected by their authors. Exist- 
ing popular and scholarly literature on place-naming 
illuminates the importance of such studies, and the fin- 
est examples illustrate the way in which members of 
these groups— insiders and residents— perceive the 
land. Most of this literature, however, is not written for 
Native audiences. 

Early in the history of anthropology and folklore, 
scholars recognized the central importance of place to 
Native American peoples. Boas' "The Study of Geogra- 
phy" (1887), his research in Baffin Land and Hudson 
Bay (1901-1907), and his work among the KwakiutI 
(Kwakwaka'wakw) (1 934) broke ground for subsequent 
research. Waterman followed with a study among the 
Yurok (1920), as did Kroeber for the entire State of 
California (1916; also 1939). Kniffen's "Pomo Geogra- 
phy" (1 939) was another milestone. More recently, the 
compilation and analysis of place-names has been trans- 
formed by Basso's work with the Western Apache (1 996, 
1988, 1986, 1983) and Gelo's writing on Comanche 
narrative (1994). 

In the North, Brody's 1982 Maps and Dreams is 
considered a classic. Cruikshank's essays on Athabaskan 
place names (1 990, 1 991 ) are superb Canadian com- 
munity-based works. Rankama's 1 993 work with the 
Sami exemplifies Scandinavian research. Alaska 
place-name scholars include Thornton, working with 


the Tlingit of southeast Alaska (1995; 2000) and 
Kari and Fall, with Shem Pete's Alaska, on Dena'ina 

Few Native American scholars or authors have writ- 
ten about their own perceptions of land, about naming, 
or about toponyms, however, although they often speak 
(orally) about the topics with great eloquence.' Native 
writers of fiction and Native poets discuss the land 
more frequently, perhaps because lyrical works are more 
suitably read aloud, just as a place-name and its socio- 
cultural context are customarily told, not written. These 
important works underscore Native links between tra- 
ditional (past and present) emic expression, family, folk 
belief, and the natural world. 

IntheShishmaref area(Fig. 74), Inupiaq place-names 
like Tapqaq and their translations ("sandy shore") were 
first recorded by Russian explorer and trader Ivan 
Kobelev in the 1 790s, who worked in the service of 
the Billings expedition (Ray 1975:6). Dorothy Jean 
Ray's (1 983 [1 964]) studies of northwest Alaska place- 
names were amplified by elder Morris Kiyutelluk of 
Shishmaref, working with Kathryn Koutsky to collect 
data in support of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement 
Act of 1 971 (Koutsky 1 981 ). What resulted were lists of 
names included in more comprehensive ethnographic 
works. Koutsky and Kiyutelluk's research was fol- 
lowed by Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) interviews 
with Cideon/Kahlook Barr Sr. and other local collabo- 
rators in 1 988, then with Jeanne Schaaf s interviews for 
the National Park Service's Shared Beringian Heritage 
Program (Schaaf 1 996). Place-names are imbedded in 
most of these interviews. My work with Edgar/Nunageak 
Ningeulook, sponsored by the National Park Service 
and the National Science Foundation, followed in 1993 
and later. 

This discussion focuses on how liiupiaq people in 
Shishmaref name, feel about, and function within the 
landscapes where they live and travel, hunt and gather. 
Naming, effect, performance, competence, and history 
are intertwined dynamically here in the act of place- 
naming and in the retelling of toponyms. These pro- 

cesses are explicit and creative, and in the high con- 
text environment of a Native village, much of the cre- 
ative process is shared. This is just as true of place- 
naming as it is of storytelling and the production of art. 
Our goal has been to look at toponyms as both ve- 
hicle and symbol of cultural ideology, while recogniz- 
ing them as cultural artifacts within the ethnographic 

The transmission (and retention) of place-names and 
the accompanying preservation of local data associ- 
ated with them remains an important part of daily life in 
Shishmaref. Local tales and anecdotes are anchored in 
landscapes known intimately to their tellers; all con- 
tain references to specific sites and, often, to personal 
names. Yet the transmission of this information is usu- 
ally casual and unremarkable, as the days when young 
men gathered in the more formal social environment 
of the qazgri (men's house) to listen to such tales are 
long past and the morals of the tales are often lost on 
today's youth. A trip up the Saniq coast toward Cape 
Espenberg mirrored this reality for us. As wind and wa- 
ter thrashed our boat. Captain Harvey Pootoogooluk 
narrated the shape and history of the land to Edgar/ 
Nunageak Ningeulook. He spoke continuously, al- 
though it was difficult to talk or hear. His words were 
not for amusement, but spoken as traditional lessons. 
Each named site, even if it has disappeared into the 
sea, was reiterated as a holistic conglomerate of present- 
day activities, Inupiaq history, associated genealogy, 
traditional beliefs, and moral lessons. 

The Function of Place-names in the 
Inupiaq Landscape 

Inupiaq toponyms and associated folktales underscore 
human ties with the Earth, local landscape, and destiny, 
providing predictive models of what it means to be 
Inupiaq. During traditional times, place-names were pre- 
served and transmitted orally in community and ex- 
tended family contexts because the information im- 
bedded in them was essential to daily life. In Alaska, as 
modernity encroaches upon and in many ways is wel- 


corned by rural Native peoples, the physical landscape 
of many villages and towns has changed dramatically 
along with the cultural landscape. Yet, knowledge of 
the land and sea remains paramount to both literal and 
psychological survival. Although Native villages have 
been transformed and ancient social networks modi- 
fied, the core Inupiaq values of living in close interde- 
pendence with land and sea, and of using these great 
resources wisely and with moral understanding, con- 

The Ihupiat and their lands are inseparable. Brown 
defines this relationship as one of kinship— Earth is a 
relative: "A dominant theme in all Native American 
cultures is that of relationship, or a series of relation- 
ships that are always reaching further and further out" 
(1989:1 1). Shishmaref elder Hattie Ningeulook spoke 
of land in Inupiaq terms by saying "the earth possessed" 

her people (1 981 ). She meant, literally, that the Inupiat 
could not be separated from earth or sea without a 
profound loss of identity. Like other Northern Native 
peoples, liiupiat commonly identify individuals and 
communities by their connection with landscapes and 
localities, general and specific. Identity is configured 
in several ways: individually, around extended family 
kin groups, and communally, as people who inhabit 
an entire region (Schweitzer and Colovko 1994:51). 
Continued preservation of traditional familial and re- 
gional identity remains very important, especially for 
people who have resettled during historic or recent 
times (either voluntarily or through forced cultural 
change) into hub-communities like Shishmaref. Docu- 
menting place-names and associated data is a way to 
preserve this identity and to keep a people's historical 
landscapes alive. 


Boundary for Bering Land 

Bridge National Preserve 

Approximate Boundary line 

Kigiqtaamiut Lands 
<D Small Boat Harbor 
<I> Boat (Umiaq) Rack 

^ Known Place-name, 
Old Settlement 

Arctic Ocean 


74/ Northwestern shore of Seward Peninsula, Alaska (the Saniq-Saniniq coastline), showing major traditional com- 
munities and Native place-names, documented from the present-day Inupiaq elders. 



Communities throughout this area are adjacent to 
lands managed by the U.S. National Park Service (NPS); 
residents use NPS lands places they or their ances- 
tors have named— for subsistence hunting, gathering, 
and fishing. The majority of residents here are Inupiat, 
although the region is now designated for "multiple 
use" by (mainly) non-Native administrators. A "wilder- 
ness suitability review" conducted when the preserve 
was established concluded that all federal lands in the 
preserve were eligible for wilderness designation (NPS 
1985). But "wilderness" is an invented concept that 
Inupiat do not necessarily support. Leopold stated un- 
equivocally to conservation-minded Western idealists 
that "raw wilderness gives definition and meaning to 
the human enterprise" (1 966[1 949]:279). Conversely, E. 
Estyn Evans calls the concept of natural environment 
"an abstraction" for many cultures (1 972:5 1 8). Certainly 
"raw wilderness" is neither a reality nor an ideal for 
Inupiat— nor for most Native Americans. The Inupiat 
and their ancestors walked, used, named, and lost these 
lands to the sea for thousands of years. 

At the village, town, regional, and national levels. 

knowledge of names and place continues to renew 
and maintain a deep sense of self and community. 
Gathering information toward this end was an impor- 
tant goal of this study. A profound example of this 
process occurred on September 1 1 , 2001 , as all Ameri- 
cans— Inupiat and other Native Americans among 
them— reacted to a tragic event, to history being 
made. Now, there is a particular urban landscape named 
"Ground Zero." Ground Zero is a young toponym that 
provides a large lesson in evaluating the worth and 
meaning of a place-name (which may sometimes seem 
small or remote) and its associated context, conse- 
quences, and meanings. Perhaps non-Natives should 
look to Ground Zero for a model of how much a top- 
onym can mean, of the enormous weight a place-name 
can bear as they research the histories of other groups 
and manage their lands. 

In the Inupiaq village of Shishmaref, as among other 
Native American communities, the naming of specific 
sites, localities, and general regions is one of the most 
important ways in which people transfer communal his- 
tory, recall significant family events and heroic indi- 





/I R C T I C 


75/ Hand-drawn map of the Saniq area, produced by one of Tom and Ellen Lapp's Inupiat herder apprentice 
students, probably by Thomas Sokweena (Sokeinna) or James Keok in Wales, Alaska, 1902. 



viduals, convey moral lessons, and underscore soci- 
etal rules. Throughout Alaska, toponyms also serve to 
preserve language, annotate boundaries (those of dia- 
lect and ethnicity), and draw attention to particular geo- 
graphic features, which in turn refer to extended family, 
safety, and subsistence. The landscape is a text, pat- 
terned culturally in particular ways. Knowledge about it 
is transmitted traditionally through oral history, gener- 
ally related while at the place itself. 

These ancient patterns of sociocultural transmission 
have changed considerably in the twentieth century."^ 
This study began at a time when many knowledgeable 
elders— those who saw the turn of the nineteenth to 
the twentieth century— are passing away. With each of 
their deaths, traditional knowledge of the landscape 
diminishes. Thomas Thornton, working among the 
Tlingit, notes that the documentation of toponyms 
has resulted in the revitalization of some names in 
Southeast Alaska. Likewise, Herbert Anungazuk ac- 
knowledges that young Saniq-Saniniq area Inupiat know 
less about the land and its names than they once did, 
but expects a "surge of interest" in this knowledge as 
this and other projects progress. 

People of the Shishmaref Area 

Arctic River, there is always someone there too, 
so they call those people Agugvigmiut. . . . Each 
area had an old site and there are always some 
people that's been living there. The people are 
called by the landmark's name (Gideon Kahlook 
BarrSr., Shishmaref, 1 987; emphasis added). 

Shishmaref elders, like many Native Americans, call 
themselves and their kinsmen "real people." When tell- 
ing stories about the region, some Inupiaq collabora- 
tors say that select narratives were handed down from 
the Ihupiapiat, "first people," or "genuine real people" of 
the region. Traditional settlements along the Saniq- 
Saniniq coasts from Wales to Shishmaref, on to Cape 
Espenberg, and beyond to present-day Deering were 
scattered at regular intervals at resource-rich locations, 
occupied by extended family groups. In times past, 

these people did not think of themselves as one soci- 
ety; small local communities, in fact, sometimes feuded 
bitterly. Families of the Saniq-Saniniq region, like all 
Inupiat, referred to themselves as belonging to their 
winter settlement; Qividluamiut (of Qividluaq) or 
Kigiqtaamiut(from Old Shishmaref). These semi-perma- 
nent winter "family tree settlements," as Shishmaref el- 
der Charley Okpowruk called them, served as base lo- 
cations while families moved seasonally for subsis- 
tence purposes. An extraordinary hunter (umialiq) and 
his family, living in close proximity to his brothers, 
other male relatives and their families, dominated each 
community. Most of those men served as crew mem- 
bers during the ugzruk (bearded seal) hunt and con- 
tinue to do so. Later, some were employed as reindeer 
herders and apprentices. 

Shishmaref area residents speak several Inupiaq 
sub-dialects. In present-day Shishmaref, speakers of the 
Ikpikmiut, Kigiqtaamiut, Qividluamiut, and Pitaamiut 
(Pimiuli) dialects can still be identified. Dialectical dif- 
ferences in the region are often very subtle, but they 
are important in understanding the lay of landscape 
and the nature of the sea, as well as one's identity and 
origins. A misinterpretation of a name's meaning in an 
unfamiliar geographic area may disorient a traveler. 
Along the Shishmaref area coast, for example, the term 
Saniniq refers to a sandy beach, translating as "land 
between two points." The coastline from Cape Espen- 
berg to Deering is also called Saniniq, but in the Pimiuli 
dialect of that area, the term translates more accurately 
as "shallow ocean," indicating that the coastline must 
be known well and traveled with care (Barr 1 991 ; Burch 

Geographic and societal identities were virtually 
inseparable for the Inupiat (pers. comm., Charles Lucier, 
November 28, 1 996); thus, river drainages and discrete 
landscapes often functioned as societal boundaries. In- 
dividuals and family members would have been inter- 
changeable, in a sense, with particular sites, place-names, 
and even landscapes and ecosystems. During this 
project, village collaborators divided mapping and analy- 



sis into three major areas defined by drainages and by 

proximity to other Inupiaq nations: 

—The Saniq coast and interior west of Shishmaref 
nearly to Wales, a village historically allied to 

—Serpentine Flats and the interior upland 
regions; and 

—The coast eastward to Cape Espenberg. 

The latter includes some of the Saniniq coast toward 
Deering, as well as mountainous areas and portages 
leading into the Inmachuk and Niqianaqtuuq ("place 
with brants") river drainages. 

The first non-Native credited for visiting Kigiqtaq 
was Otto Von Kotzebue, during his voyage of 1816-7 
on the /?wr/7c(Van Stone 1 960:1 45). Observing the coastal 
lowland, Kotzebue remarked that the local- and ex- 
tended-family settlements that Kobelev had tentatively 
mapped along the coast indicated "a numerous habita- 
tion" (Koutsky 1 981 a:40). The term Tapqaq, first recorded 
by Kobelev as the name for this coastline, described 

"lakes, ponds, and pondlets thrown down like pieces 
of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle along the lonely tapqaq 
(sandy strand) between Shishmaref and Cape 
Espenberg" (Ray 1 975:6). Local inhabitants were called 
Tapkakmiut and the best-known "people of the sandy 
shoreline" were the residents of the Shishmaref area, 
though the term tapqaq also applied to several other 
Seward Peninsula locations (Ray 1983:233-4).^ 

Along the western Saniq coast, the focus of our 
National Science Foundation study, the largest tradi- 
tional communities were Kigiqtaq, Sinnazaat, Ikpek, and 
Milletagvik, at one time each with fifty to eighty resi- 
dents. There were no major inland settlements in this 
region, except for Ipnauraq ("small bluff," "rocky wall," 
or "little bank") near the mouth of the Serpentine River. 
The village was abandoned after many residents ate 
tainted fish and perished, although some contempo- 
rary residents still attribute the incident to witchcraft, 
for a shaman's charm could cause incidents like this 
(pers. comm. Edgar Ningeulook, 6/94; Koutsky 1 981 :22; 

^'WWfe ■ ■ ■ -....-V..... ..........w,....v,.,.„„.... ............. . 

-J--^...---^-^--^ ~ 

76/ Watercolor of the Messenger Feast, or Wolf Dance, by Headman E-too'-ach-in-na (sic) of Ipnauraq, near 
present day Shishmaref One of a series of painting of festivals and susbsistence life created for Nome's Judge 
Wickersham in 1 902, it is unclear if this particular event took place in Ipnauraq or in a neighboring village where E- 
too'-ach-in-na may have visited. 



Ray 1983:213; D. Ningeulook 1997). Today, Ipnauraq 
is a popular fish camp and winter landmark for those 
traveling by dogsled across the ice to and from 
Shishmaref. Charley Okpowruk said that Ipnauraq once 
held Messenger Feasts (Wolf Dances; Fig. 76) to which 
Old Shishmaref residents were invited for exchange 
feasts: "Our elders that we caught, they say Wolf Dance 
is not a fun [secular] dance. . . . Their kalukaq (box 
drum) was heard nearly twenty miles from here." (C. 
Okpowruk 1 998; also Fienup-Riordan 1 996:38-41 ; Fair 
2001). This would indicate that Ipnauraq was a large 
village suitable for archaeological investigation. 

Each of these now abandoned communities was 
thus located in a landscape replete with names and 
infused with kinship relations of critical importance to 
its members. Old Shishmaref/Kigiqtaq was partially de- 
stroyed during historic times by Kauwermiut warriors 
from Mary's Igloo as residents clustered inside qazghit, 
enjoying winter festivities. Milletagvik, which served 
as a mission and reindeer herding station overseen by 
Sokeinna and his wife Elubwok, both from Wales, was 
affected by the 1918 global influenza epidemic; and 
nearby Wales was devastated. Residents of Sinnazaat, 
which may have had as many as twenty homes during 
historic times, perished long ago from eating tainted 
Beluga whale meat, as elders recall. During Ningeulook's 
boyhood there was a graveyard at Sinnazaat with many 
traditional burials: "The site is no more because ero- 
sion has taken it away. Erosion occurred from both the 
lagoon and ocean sides. There is not a trace left of all 
the graves, either. . . . Some of the graves were so 
dense that they had to be piled on top of one another. 
These were all above-ground burials" (D. Ningeulook 

Ikpek, home of the Olanna family, was spared such 
a tragedy, and was occupied year-round by a few resi- 
dents as late as the 1 950s, although a government 
school had been established in Shishmaref in the 1 920s. 
Ikpek was the last traditional Saniq community to re- 
sist modernization. Families there lobbied for a school, 
but it was never built; many Ikpekmiut chose to keep 

their children at home on a seasonal basis while they 
hunted and trapped. Itinerant missionaries traveling the 
Saniq coast converted many Ikpek residents from tra- 
ditional practices to the Christian faith, however, and 
Ikpekmiut were drawn to Shishmaref by the Lutheran 
Church. Ultimately, Ikpek was converted to a seasonal 
camp and Native allotment site, albeit a significant one, 
and its residents moved out to Brevig Mission and 

Consequently, Shishmaref became the hub village 
for the northern Seward Peninsula Saniq coast and Ser- 
pentine Flats. Former coastal residents brought with 
them Inupiaq dialects and sub-dialects as well as affili- 
ations with settlements that had not always been friendly 
with Kigiqtaq. They also circulated distinctive origin 
stories, folktales, personal narratives and memories, as 
well as graphic arts featuring their home landscapes, in 
addition to toponyms. Now, residents who tire of the 
size and faster pace of Shishmaref, or who marry out- 
side the village, often move to Brevig Mission, Wales, 
or Deering. 

Geographic Context: The Saniq and Saniniq 
Coasts, Serpentine Flats, and Uplands 

Long strands of windswept barrier islands, saltwater 
lagoon systems, and beaches lace the northern Seward 
Peninsula coast of the Bering Strait and the Chukchi 
Sea for more than 1 00 miles from Cape Prince of Wales 
northeast to Cape Espenberg. Contemporary Shish- 
maref is situated on Sarichef Island (a.k.a. Kigiqtaq, lit- 
erally, "island"). Barrier islands are by nature narrow, frag- 
ile, and transitory. Neither Sarichef Island nor any other 
area coastal, island, or bluff mainland locations have 
ever been stable enough to support major communi- 
ties (especially with large infrastructures) for long peri- 
ods of time, although today, Shishmaref has grown to 
more than 600 residents. Historic photographs of 
Shishmaref illustrate the gentle appearance of sod 
homes arranged in two rows down the length of 
Kigiqtaq in the center of the island, grassy paths lead- 
ing between. By the early 1 920s, a few rectangular 



77/ The village of Shishmafef, late 1 920s, showing a lumber house with sod buttresses in the center, traditional 
iglu homes (grassy hummocks) throughout, its safe oceanside beach to the north (right), and the white frame 
government school and quarters in the central background. 

"lumber houses" were interspersed. These frame homes 
were coveted, although they were less efficient than 
traditional dwellings and many were buttressed with 
sod for insulation (Fig. 77). 

Across the many lagoons that separate these is- 
lands from the mainland, the coastal lowlands undulate 
gently, sparkling with tundra lakes and string bogs. Each 
low rise gives navigational guidance or bears meaning 
for Inupiaq travelers— some of these toponyms very 
likely have been in continuous use since before 
Kotzebue's 1816 contact. Several large rivers along 
the Saniq coast drain into the Chukchi Sea or into the 
lagoons, including the Nuluk, various branches of the 
Serpentine, Aaghuqviiq (Arctic), and Espenberg."^ Beyond 
Cape Espenberg along the shores of Kotzebue Sound, 
the Saniniq coast, major drainages include an estuary 
formed by the Niqianaqtuuq River, as well as the 
Goodhope, Pish, and Inmachuk Rivers. These water- 
ways, all used by Shishmaref and Deering residents, 
provide freshwater fish and anadromous salmon, and 
serve as transportation routes into the interior. 

The repertoire of the late Gideon/Kahlook Barr Sr. 
included a traditional tale about Itivyaaq, one of the 
tributaries near Cape Espenberg in his home region, 
which illustrates the use of such waterways, portages, 
and corridors."" Allusions to the competitiveness of 
Inupiaq boat captains (umialiitor "big men"), as well as 
illustrations of the flexibility and diverse use of animal 
skins are enmeshed in this narrative (Fair n.d.). Specific 
geographic references and practical hints in the narra- 
tive may assist someone traveling the same route to- 
day, for the old portage is used regularly as a snow- 
machine trail between Shishmaref and Goodhope Bay 
(NANA 1 992). Barr's comments about his father, Makaiq- 
taq, demonstrate that use of the land as well as the 
social role of skin boat captains was changing even at 
the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth century: 

"There's a story behind this Itivyaaq River, 
how it's used," he said. 

One time there were two skin boats returning 
from Kotzebue where the big Eskimo trading 
center is. Coming back from Kotzebue, they 



have to go through Kotzebue Sound be- 
cause of the weather conditions (on open 
seas). And while they were camping at the 
mouth in two boats, well— One decided to 
go through Itivyaaq. 

To go overland, as you follow this Itivyaaq 
River, you go a ways, and you have to go 
overland [by portage] to another river that 
goes out to Shishmaref Lagoon. . . . They call 
it North Fork or East Fork, that is part of the 
Serpentine River. . . . And they only have to 
go less than a mile to drag their skin boat 
from Itivyaaq on into what they call Kialiik. 
And then, from there on down the river, on 
the North Fork River— what we call Kialiik. 
No problem, it's deep. 

The further you go out, the narrower it gets, 
and on to Itivyaaq going up. The closer you 
get to the overland portage [itibliq] when the 
weather is dry, the water would be low. But 
when the weather is wet, wet with rain, there is 
no problem getting up to the area where they 
go overland to North Fork River. When the 
water is a little too low, they even have to 
carve the side of the riverbank. In order for 
the skin boat to go through— just in the tight 
spots only. That's the way boats were used in 
the early days. 

So these two captains (umialiqs), well— One 
makes up his mind to go overland. To go 
through Itivyaaq and go out through North 
Fork. So, the other one decides to go around 
on the ocean side, alright. When the weather 
calms down, one boat is gonna go through 
the ocean coast side . . . 

And then they left together. And alright, the 
last time they talked together, they wondered 
which one of them will get to Shishmaref first. 
So, when they both took off, one goes up the 
river, Niqianaqtuuq River, on to Itivyaaq. And 
when they arrive in Shishmaref, that other 
boat had not arrived yet. And it was almost 
twenty-four hours later, when that other boat 
arrived in Shishmaref. 

That's an old [oral] record of that: How these 
two captains get together and argue, sort of 
argue over which is closest. This man said it's 
real close, as long as you have to go over- 
land—It's a real shortcut. But the other guy 
didn't believe it. So he just goes on the 
ocean coast side while the other boat goes 
overland river. 

That's the way it was used. Either way, from 
Shishmaref or from Serpentine side, on up to 
Niqianaqtuuq. Whenever they wanted to 

make a shortcut it was used in those days. 
But even in my father's time, nobody had 
used it so far, according to my father. He 
said they talk about it— but they never tried 
(Cideon/Kahlook Barr Sr., Shishmaref, 1 988). 

The entire Saniq coastline is extremely dynamic, while 
the Saniniq side is protected somewhat from the open 
ocean, as Barr's narrative indicates. Because the barrier 
islands have almost no vertical relief, there is nothing 
to moderate arctic winds; the sands are moved, rede- 
posited, and built up intermittently by intense and re- 
petitive wave action (NPS 1 985). Particularly forceful 
storms sometimes roll in from north and west, bringing 
devastating floods that erode shoreline cliffs, sweep 
away the ruins of old settlements, and threaten modern 
villages with devastation or relocation, as in the cases 
of both Shishmaref and Kivalina. During the fall of 1 993, 
1997, 2001, and 2002, Shishmaref was pummeled by 
dramatic storms that endangered many houses and eradi- 
cated traditional foods (qigniq) stored in underground 
caches called sigluaq (Fig. 78). Although a few elders 
resisted, several homes were relocated to the old air- 
port at the outskirts of town, the Lutheran Church do- 
nated lots, and some homes were abandoned. In the 
near future, commercial and government buildings, air- 
port, boat landings, and the school will also be in jeop- 
ardy, and villagers have already voted to relocate 
(Verrengia 2002). These lands shift perpetually; and al- 
though the Inupiaq are accustomed to adaptation, the 
size of the village and its infrastructure make the move 
difficult and expensive to contemplate, plan, and ex- 
ecute. Meanwhile, a particularly harsh fall storm could 
destroy the main part of Shishmaref. 

Overall, four distinct biological-geographical terrain 
types are represented on the Seward Peninsula: 
Shishmaref Lowlands, Uplands, Kuzitrin River Basin, and 
Imuruk Lava Flow (Eisler 1 978:3). The entire region is a 
part of the intermontane plateau system dominated by 
an alpine tundra ecosystem based atop deep perma- 
frost (Koutsky 1981). Although the area is located in 
the Subarctic, Shishmaref weather is harsh and unpre- 
dictable. Less than two feet of snow falls here in the 



average year, but winters are long and sometimes, 
snow drifts to the eaves of homes, businesses, and 
the school in the central area. The summits and flanks 
of nearby mountains are often used for game spot- 
ting and weather prediction. The late elder Charley 
Okpowruk gave such an example of the uses of Ear 
Mountain {Inigagik, translates as "place of beseechment") 
(also Keithahn 1962:73; Koutsky 1981:14-5; C. 
Weyiouanna 1997). Okpowruk prefaced his story with 
an explanation of the function and meaning of Inupiaq 
folk-tales, differentiating between "true stories" and 
apocryphal tales that demonstrate Inupiaq history and 

True stories, what we call them is ikomorauq . . 
. they actually happened— like guiding the 
person's actual true way of life. The true way 
of dealing with the other generation or the other 
person. . . . I would call it true culture to the 
younger generation. 

The man's way is protection of the young 
person in terms of hunting and traveling on 
the ocean. And a lot of that is knowing 
prediction on the weather, too. When I grew 
up, they didn't have any barometer or any- 
thing, or radio. The prediction of the wind and 
wind direction comes from our area here, 
especially on that Ear Mountain, where it's 
kind of windy. By looking at the cloud 
conditions up there and the cloud conditions 
on the horizon, we can tell [Fig. 79]. 

When we go to have a north wind in spring- 
time, those thunderclouds always form up. . . . 
That's where the north wind is going to be. 
And the clouds on the stratus— you always 
see them, called stratus. They always say the 
wind won't go though the tunnel of those, it 
has to go sideways. And all that mountain up 
there, there are clouds that form certain ways 
on that Ear Mountain. . . . 

Ear Mountain tells the weather condition, tells 
about it. Sometimes it doesn't have any clouds, 
or clouds form up on that deal on the halfway 
mark there. When clouds form up on the middle 
in a real narrow strip, that's one of the wind 
directions. . . . And when it's completely cloudy, 
just only on the top, that's when we're going to 
have a north wind. If the clouds started coming 
up on top there, from the other side ... it has to 
mean a south wind. . . . 

Also, Ear Mountain has two big rocks there, 

78/ A west-end Shishmaref home hangs precariously 
over the oceanside bluff created by a severe Septem- 
ber 1997 storm. 

and Eskimos got another name for those two 
rocks— /cummw/<. It's a body louse or hair 
louse. This might be true, long ago. A couple 
of people got so much body lice that these 
lice got their wings and just flew them up 
there. That's how they turned into rocks. 

/ really don 't know if that part is true or not. 
(Charley Okpowruk, Shishmaref, 1 991 ) 

Goals of the Shishmaref Place-Name Project 

The project discussed here was a team study con- 
ducted in cooperation with the Shishmaref IRA Village 
Council and the Shishmaref Native Corporation in 1997- 
1998. While the importance of place-names emerged 
naturally during the initial project, sponsored by the 
National Park Service, the subsequent community-based 
NSF project was defined by several goals. Most of all, 
villagers wanted to see continued documentation and 
analysis of local place-names and associated informa- 
tion to the fullest extent possible. They also requested 



that a high-quality, well-designed educational map be 
produced for classroom use. 

A key goal was thus the systematic mapping and 
recording of place-names and associated oral histories 
about names and landscapes, as well as the documen- 
tation of travel, migration, and subsistence routes 
throughout the area. These data would ultimately be 
tied to extended family settlements (and associated 
dialects), demonstrating the range of influence and land- 
use patterns of specific local families. Life histories are 
one way of obtaining such information. Genealogies 
of key collaborators were the first step, expanding to 
their relationships with other families. Residence pat- 
terns, marriage alliances, the proprietary use of land- 
scape, and the avoidance of certain areas would emerge 
from the initial genealogical family studies. We also 
collected and examined restrictions and taboos asso- 
ciated with landscapes and place-names. 

We intended to demonstrate the way in which 
toponyms continue to be added to the local repertoire 
(or do not) and how they change with time, underscor- 
ing that Inupiaq time and traditions are interlocked in a 
fluid historical process. Initial research indicated that 
changes in place-names appear to result from a combi- 
nation of factors, such as language loss and difficulty 
in pronouncing ancient names. We sought to identify 
processes by which local place-names transformed 
as new groups migrated in and out of the area, land use 
changed, and elders passed away. Toponyms are in- 
vented or changed as new incidents occur at specific 
sites ( Boas 1 901 ; Burch 1 995). 

Several examples of such place-name change were 
evident at Shishmaref. One ethnonymic transformation 
noted in eadier research is the creation of "ghost forms," 
words (in this case toponyms) that previously did not 
exist and may "obliterate genuine archaic features" of 
the name (cf. Goddard 1 984:98-99). In the Shishmaref 
area, an example of this phenomenon is the place- 
name Nuizhaakpak, "to come into view" or "big cloud." 
This site has an liiupiaq nickname, the root word nuyaq. 
It is also often called "New York," because the original 

toponym is difficult for local non-lnupiaq speakers to 
pronounce; consequently, it has become an abbrevi- 
ated or completely different form, a ghost of the origi- 
nal. Translations of Nuizhaakpak collected at different 
times may refer to folktales that are now lost, for the 
root word connotes caution about potential harm. More 
specifically, it means "to naturally take caution in ap- 
proaching a known inhabited area, in this case, 
Shishmaref (pers. comm. Herbert Anungazuk, 1998). 
This indicates strained relations between linupiaq (and 
other) groups. Stories about Yakpatakgaq, a site near 
the mouth of Nuluk River, provide clues. "Big clouds" 
are a motif in Yakpatakgaq stories and other local 
folktales, in which shamans create bad weather or poor 
visibility so villagers (or enemies) cannot be seen and 
attacked. Oral history associated with the now-aban- 
doned village tells how a dense fog created by a Sibe- 
rian shaman (Koutsky 1 981 :23, 32), facilitated a surprise 
summer attack by Siberians. 

An unrealized goal of this project was to achieve 
an understanding of the human experience of landscape 
through linguistic analyses of place naming patterns (syn- 
tactic and semantic). In the past, residents of the re- 
gion—through trading, traveling, warring, courting, and 
establishing kin— came into contact with a wide vari- 
ety of other people and needed to communicate with 
them. An open-coding linguistic system appears to have 
prevailed, and code-switching between languages and 
dialects may have affected place-name assignation and 
preservation. Dialectical differences for topo-nyms will 
obviously be linked to particular informants— it is very 
important not to subsume these differences in transla- 
tion and transcription. 

Project Methodology 

Oral histories collected in years past, especially those 
recorded in Inupiaq, are rich with toponyms and im- 
bedded with other information that demonstrate the 
many ways the landscape is used and perceived by 
locals. In Shishmaref, however, as in much of Alaska, 
such archival material has rarely been analyzed in terms 



79/ Several Shishmaref boaters, including the late Melvin/Asitona Olanna and his crew, gather on the open 
Chuckhi Sea while hunting ugzruk during the May 1 987 spring hunt, with Ear Mountain, used by villages for 
weather prediction and assistance in navtigation, clearly in the distant background. 

of its inherent window into the Native view of land. 
Also, information of this type has seldom been viewed 
as a guide to how such lands might better be managed. 
Native people "managed" their lands for millennia by 
knowing them intimately, walking and hunting them 
extensively, sharing resources, protecting lands from 
intruders while making alliances with those whom they 
wished to know, and by telling stories about the land- 
scape in animated ways. Now, traditional stories are 
told less often as elders pass away, and technology 
changes, so new methods of place-name transmission- 
narrative, videotape, and map—must occur if this infor- 
mation is to be preserved. 

In this respect, audiotaped interviews accompanied 
by intensive mapping sessions provide the best way 
of obtaining place-name data when this is combined 
with a thorough review of previously written and taped 
information. Working closely with an astute local 
liiupiaq historian, the late Edgar/Nunageak Ningeulook, 

the project approach became a blend of methodol- 
ogy from folklore, anthropology, and cultural geogra- 
phy combined with various topics local interviewers 
added while speaking in Ifiupiaq. Therefore, the tran- 
scriptions sometimes contained surprises. Existing au- 
diotapes (including folktales) previously recorded in the 
Shishmaref locality or conducted with former 
Shishmaref residents living in Nome and Anchorage 
were also important to the study; most contained place- 
names as well as more generalized references to land- 

In the early to mid-1 980s, an important body of oral 
history was collected on St. Lawrence Island and in 
numerous other places, including Shishmaref, for the 
Eskimo Heritage Program, sponsored by the National 
Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and based out of 
Nome. Those transcripts provided massive amounts of 
information about Native landscapes.-^ Translation and 
transcription of this material by local scholars (nearly 



twenty years later) is still underway in Shishmaref un- 
der the guidance of Kawerak, Inc. and the National Park 

At the beginning of the research, comprehensive 
ethnohistoric research uncovered many toponyms bur- 
ied in writings both scholarly and popular, most with- 
out rich context. Historic archival photographs (includ- 
ing some family photos) were used; one large group, 
the Edward L. Keithahn collection (Fig. 80), was brought 
to the National Park Service, Shishmaref Native Corpo- 
ration, and ultimately, the Alaska State Library (Histori- 
cal Collections). Whenever possible, ethnographic still 
photographers were brought in to record research ef- 
forts, particular events, and daily life. 

Topographic maps were shown to elders and other 
knowledgeable local residents selected by team 
leaders, the Council, and Corporation board members. 
During previous NPS research, elder Gideon/ Kahlook 
Barr Sr. had been interviewed intensively, so it was 
natural to begin with and add to Barr's narratives, 
which focus mainly to the east of Shish-maref toward 
Cape Espenberg. Later, with NSF funding, Davey 
Ningeulook— eldest hunter in the village— was cho- 
sen as the first person from whom we would collect a 
life history. Ningeulook's geographic knowledge most 
intimately spans territories from present-day Shishmaref 
to Milletagvik. He and his wife Frieda Eningowuk 
Ningeulook worked on mapping with us. All of this 
information was simply color-coded to each informant 
(with colored pencils) as we mapped and talked with 
other residents. 

Proper orthography is a consistent problem in 
most Native place-name and landscape studies. Older 
studies of place-names often used the rather anti- 
quated approach of collecting place-names as ob- 
jects, usually resulting in lists of names out of con- 
text. Differences in pronunciation and orthography 
between dialects were often ignored. There are many 
names in the literature, but most of them are spelled 
out phonetically (thus misspelled) and, often, 
duplicated. '° 

Ningeulook and I developed a rather formulaic lay- 
out of place-name information. The same type of entry, 
though slightly less elaborate, can also be seen in Karl 
and Fall's Shem Pete's Alaska (1 987). When published 
in book form, this information will be layered more 
heavily with folktales, personal narrative, historic and 
contemporary photographs, and illustrations of contem- 
porary art and artifacts. Entries are designed primarily 
to be useful to Shishmaref readers because of the depth 
and breadth of information included in them, while con- 
tributing to the scholarly literature as well. First, we 
number the Inupiaq toponym and add the place-name 
in English when appropriate. This information is fol- 
lowed by the dialect used for spelling the name with 
its translation when available. We then list the sources 
of these translations followed by references or num- 
bers assigned to the place-name on various published 
or existing maps (see Appendix).^' 

We also include citations like "Edgar Ningeulook 
6/94," which mean that Ningeulook (or others) com- 
mented personally on orthography and translations 
of place-names during the course of the research. 
Such bibliographic entries are included with more 
formal citations, all including entry numbers from other 
maps when applicable, for BIA, Bering Straits Native 
Corporation, National Park Service, and other place- 
name research and cartography that have been con- 
ducted in this region, much of which is presently un- 
published. Then, more contextual information is given 
along with each Native contributor's name and date. 
Such entries may be descriptive, anecdotal, or may in- 
clude entire folktales pertaining to place-name or lo- 
cal landscape. When more than one person was inter- 
viewed, comments are generally given in order of fa- 
miliarity with the area and length of contribution. It was 
obviously important to work with people who know a 
site or region well: and it is quickly apparent where 
their knowledge drops off geographically, both on the 
map and in their narratives. Information from scholarly 
and historical references follows. Then each entry 
lists every spelling that we have encountered for 



80/ Members of the traditional "city council", several of whom helped save the village of Shismaref from the 
influenza epidemic of 1918, in a photograph taken in 1 923 by Edward Keithahn and now in the MPS collections. 

the toponym, a policy inspired by the work of Dor- 
othy Jean Ray. An elaborate example of our place- 
name layout is the entry for Qividluaq included in 
the appendix. Today, Qividluaq is in ruins, and its former 
residents (Qividluamiut) live primarily in Shishmaref. 
Where they will be in the future will be the choice of 
individuals, families, and the community, as the sea 
forces them to leave Sarichef Island for good (Fig. 81). 

We worked closely with AutoCAD experts at Mc- 
Clintock Land Associates to create a map of the study 
area, but numbers and names are so numerous that an 
overlay system may have to be used during publica- 
tion. We now have enough information for three vol- 
umes on Shishmaref area place-names, more than 250 
sites (there are no doubt many more) that fall naturally 
into the three ecological and cultural niches discussed 
previously. Our first volume works west from Shish- 
maref and Sarichef Island to Milletagvik. As we worked 
on this project, the Shishmaref Native Corporation be- 
gan formal ANCSA land allotment surveys, which are 
now nearly complete. This information might enrich 

the place-name study or may be used to launch other 
projects. There were various discussions about using 
GPS to pinpoint sites precisely on our maps, but most 
local people felt that it was not in their best interests to 
have outsiders know exactly where someone could fly 
in to a site, perhaps plundering it. 

Most Shishmaref residents we worked with thought 
a book was the appropriate way to present information 
about cultural and ethnographic landscapes. Many also 
wanted to see a documentary film produced that would 
include elders talking about the land and telling asso- 
ciated stories on-site. Obviously, the classic way of 
receiving this information is in the context of the place 
where a particular activity is being conducted. Elders 
and other storytellers still commonly do this at camp; 
so young people on the hunt, at a berry picking site, or 
waiting for sourdough pancakes in the morning may 
be treated to such tales in context. At home in the 
village, children are more likely to be on the com- 
puter, studying, carving, orworking, for life is fast-paced 
in Shishmaref today. The desire for books about local 



toponyms was confirmed by the title the village cor- 
poration gave our first volume: Nunaptigun IlisaiWat: 
We're Learning AboLit Our Land. This name underscores 
the fact that each local resident does not know com- 
mensurate information about the local landscape and 
nearby seas, nor is each one acquainted intimately with 
the same areas. 

Land as Inupiaq Text 

The concept of land as other than a commodity is unfa- 
miliar and perhaps uncomfortable to many non-Natives. 
The Western capitalist viewpoint is that land (like la- 
bor) is a commodity that can be bought, sold, and specu- 
lated upon without regard for the future impact of such 
actions on other human beings or on the land itself. 
Nonetheless, American literature and history romanti- 
cize and laud an "unspoiled" landscape. Despite en- 
croachment by Western land use practices, the 1971 
establishment of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement 
Act (ANCSA), and the resulting transfer of money and 
lands (Berger 1 985; Rude 1 996), however, many Inupiat 
continue to use the land much as they did in the nine- 
teenth century. The essence of Inupiaq worldview re- 
garding land is one of stewardship, not private owner- 
ship; lands are held in honor of generations past and 
for future generations. Traditionally, no single individual 
can alter this circumstance. 

Toponyms reveal how the Inupiat regard their land- 
scape, as it functions as a text for those who have been 
taught to read it. Reading the landscape depends on 
knowing the names attached to places and the infor- 
mation associated with those names. Such information 
is transferred verbally and is usually contained within 
extended families. Among the Inupiaq, place-names 
are most often metonymic; that is, they point to the 
attributes of a site rather than assigning metaphor to it. 
Metaphors are of dubious use to a people who must 
know precisely the texture and quality of ice or the 
moment when the ugzruk have arrived. 

Place-name texts bolster family and community 
solidarity by reaffirming former boundaries of dialect 

and extended family. In addition, they record impor- 
tant events in local and regional Ifiupiaq history and 
identif/ uses of the landscape, including proprietary 
usage. Many historical tales associated with place in 
the region refer to migrations, wars, abductions, and 
famines. Such disruptions would undoubtedly have af- 
fected the acts of remembering or discarding certain 
toponyms. Some scholars state that there may have 
been no truly traditional societies remaining intact in 
northwest Alaska after 1850 (Burch 1975:10). If this is 
the case, place-names serve to remind people today 
what it was like to be Inupiaq in historic (and perhaps 
prehistoric) times. 

The present research indicates that land, for the 
Inupiat, is an entity much like a person— a distinctly 
animistic viewpoint. The Earth itself can speak. One of 
the ways it has spoken and continues to narrate Inupiaq 
landscape and worldview is through the act of place- 
naming. A number of tales collected from this region 
refer to persons actually traveling through or being in 
the land, rather than existing on it or seeing it as a 
resource. The fact that most Kigiqtaamiut are now de- 
vout and enthusiastic Lutherans does not diminish tra- 
ditional beliefs about the nature of land or their rela- 
tionship to it. When Inupiaq persons talk, they some- 
times refer to places that speak and to their own con- 
versations with animals. 

Non-Natives depart from the commodity view of 
land when they refer to land as "sacred" or designate it 
as wilderness. If one employs usual Western defini- 
tions of the term sacred, however, land and sea used by 
Shishmaref residents are neither "consecrated, holy, or 
set apart especially for the service or worship of God." 
Secondary definitions, less rigid, come closer to the 
Inupiaq view and include "hallowed by religious asso- 
ciation" and "held in reverence"''^ for personal and ritual 
actions by Native peoples. Certainly, when they regard 
the land with great care, it has deeply spiritual dimen- 
sions. For this reason, "sacred" is probably the easiest 
way to describe this state of being as it applies to the 
land. '3 



8]/ Shishmaref, 1983, viewed here from the Luthei 
Island noticeable in the distance. 

In the Shishmaref area, Katizrvik is a place used for 
gathering and can refer to a gathering of human beings 
at a particular site. Likewise, katimawik is a "place for a 
meeting" and is used for land-based sites, but more 
commonly, for a church structure— in Shishmaref, the 
beloved Lutheran Church. The interchangeability of the 
root word katit- implies a comparison between the act 
of gathering together on the land and gathering to- 
gether in a church. The word can also be used in Inupiaq 
for "come together, as in marriage," or "join" (Anungazuk 
1 997). 

Patterns associated with place-naming also appear 
to be affiliated closely with the following themes: ge- 
ography, subsistence hunting and gathering, kinship and 
social structure, local history, personal experience, and 
beliefs. There has been some disagreement as to 
whether a place could have been named after a per- 
sonal Inupiaq name during traditional times. In one 
view, such a practice would have conflicted with the 
person's name soul (Ray 1 983[1 971 ]:254), while an- 

Church steeple looking east, with the curve of Sarichef 

other asserts that many places on the Seward Penin- 
sula and elsewhere in northwest Alaska were "explic- 
itly named after individuals (as opposed to acciden- 
tally having the same name)" (Burch 1994:419). The 
latter appears to be the case in the Shishmaref area. 
One of project collaborator Edgar Ningeulook's Inupiaq 
names, for example, was Nunageak; he was named 
after a small river near Cape Espenberg. 

Place-Name Classifications in Shishmaref 

The place where I will start is an old igloo 
site at Cape Espenberg. This man's name, 
llaganiq, it's the story. Just from the story I 
inherit from my grandparents. His home was 
right at the tip of Espenberg, just a few 
hundred yards away from the lighthouse. 
(Cideon/Kahlook Barr Sr., Shishmaref, 1 988). 

Several types of Shishmaref area place-names have 
begun to emerge during this research. Place-name clas- 
sifications identified to this point include descriptive 
or geographic toponyms associated almost entirely with 
a geographic feature (Thornton 1995:1 52-64) as well 



as a number of generic descriptive toponyms affiliated 
with areas like portages, mud flats, caribou drive areas, 
and cliffs. Closely related to the descriptive geographic 
toponym is the activity toponym, associated with en- 
deavors conducted at a particular site. While this type 
of toponym may reflect geography, activity, or both, 
what it usually signifies for a local person is a seasonal 
performance (usually a traditional economic pursuit) or 
historic event associated with the site. Nunivliq refers 
to any productive berry-picking place (Fig. 82), for ex- 
ample, although such a place may also bear another 
site-specific toponym (Fair 1997). Other generic terms 
that refer to topographic features include taziq, for any 
lagoon and kitik, for sites where a "stone used for tan- 
ning hides" can be found. 

Survival narratives are a popular and instructive type 
of tale usually told by Inupiaq men. Harvey Pootoo- 
gooluk tells the story of Ishu, for example, which in- 
volves an incident that occurred long before his birth. 
This family text, an ancient survival narrative that has 
legendary attributes, served to bond him with his adop- 
tive family and their proprietary locality by pointing up 
a brave adoptive ancestor. Pootoogooluk and other 
adult Shishmaref men regularly tell sun/ival stories and 
hunting narratives about their experiences with weather 
and animals, providing windows into the worlds of typical 
Inupiaq hunters. These stories usually link directly to a 
place-name and serve as teaching tools for younger 
people. Sometimes, they are humorous anecdotes about 
the dangers of not paying close attention to one's sur- 

Because many actual named sites are now aban- 
doned or lost to the sea, associated toponyms and 
tales sometimes substitute for the landscape itself Such 
a place-name remains alive, tied to and perpetuating 
Ifiupiaq morals and beliefs. Abandonment of a site does 
not usually result in functional deletion of a toponym 
from the local repertoire, although place-names associ- 
ated with the loss of tales known only to specific per- 
sons or kin groups may result in the extinction of such 
names. Toponyms for sites and landscapes that have 

disappeared may be called memory names, related to 
the kind of place-name change associated with ghost 
places, although in this case they have actual names 
and are not ghost forms of the original toponym. As 
Gideon/Kahlook Barr Sr. said of one such place: "It's 
no longer a river anymore in these days. So, it's just an 
old site— which becomes just a story" (1 988). River, 
site, place-name, story, memory— a continuum emerges, 
a mental stratigraphy of place. 

Ikpizaaq (a place where you make clear a space for 
games) is an example of a memory name. It refers to a 
productive spring hunting camp on the Kalik River, 
once a large village used for fall festivals. Ikpizaaq was 
said to have had two qazghit, traditional communal 
houses. After subsistence activities were completed, 
travelers from different regions gathered there for com- 
petitive games and other activities (Koutsky 1 981 :1 7). 
A particularly memorable historic event at Ikpizaaq in- 
volved the tragic drowning of many villagers during a 
football game (similar to ice hockey) on weak ice (Burch 
1 980: 270). The loss of a number of active hunters and 
youths threatened the survival of the entire commu- 
nity and might have led to its demise; thus, this memory 
name serves as a cautionary device (ibid). 
Cideon\Kahlook Barr Sr. and others tell Ikpizaaq 

Today's time, it looks as if there was no one 
[that] has been living there. All the old 
houses are covered with a sandstorm from 
the beachside during the summer. ... If 
people don't believe this story concerning 
this old village igloo site, they can go ahead 
and dig [Ikpizaaq] up, and approve this story 
I am telling. (Gideon/Kahlook Barr, 1988) 

Another type of activity toponym is associated with 
traditional taboos, especially with those about not dis- 
turbing gravesites or homes where a death is known to 
have occurred. Some landscapes are affiliated with su- 
pernatural occurrences and shamanic activity, and some 
such areas were avoided while others were not. In the 
last few decades, however, many archaeological sites 
have been under the increasing threat of recreational 
(and income-producing) digging for artifacts. With the 



82/ The fish and berry-picking camp of Harvey and Bertha Pootoogooluli, on a branch of the Serpentine River 
near Shishmaref 1998. 

establishment of Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, 
considerable information about the protection of sites 
was disseminated in Shishmaref, and some residents 
participated in archaeological field and tab research. 
This resulted in a somewhat broader understanding of 
the impacts of disturbing sites and of the legal implica- 
tions of "pot hunting." 

Some Shishmaref elders now use narratives about 
the disturbance of ethnographic materials to illustrate 
the way in which contact with places that have been 
inhabited may result in illness, misfortune, or even death. 
Shishmaref elder Fannie/Kigrook Barr says that digging 
for artifacts is a recent practice, and perhaps a danger- 
ous one: "We scarcely look around for 'old-timers' [arti- 
facts] long ago. Because some of them are scary, scary 
digging, you know." 

She relates how one of her children found "some 
kind of carving in the other side of our house [at 
Espenberg] on the point across there. . . . They say, all 
sweat— his body's always wet— after only one night" 


(Barr and Barr 1 993). Her husband, Gideon/Kahlook Barr 
Sr., added to this conversation that 

as much as he wanted to keep it, he had to 
bring it back from where he found it. . . . Still, 
what [the person] own, it still had power in 
it, evil power. ... In earlier days, graves, and 
human bones— they'd have their beadwork 
and all of their property buried with them 
right there. When somebody picks it up . . . 
some people died from it right away (ibid). 

Both geographic place-names and activity toponyms 
are closely associated with Inupiaq national structure 
as well as extended family ties when they are remem- 
bered and told. In the local family, tales were and still 
are told by individuals about their ancestral localities. 
The stories define particular families as shaped by spe- 
cific and intimate places. Toponyms of this kind are 
family texts, often related as personal narratives or 
memorates. There are several types of family texts. Tales 
of a particular heroic ancestor, those that draw atten- 
tion to an important event in family history, memorates 


regarding incidents in the life of a single family mem- 
ber (ancestor or contemporary resident), and those that 
tie specific families to mythological beings and their 
activities. Some tales serve as broader creation texts, 
bolstering the identity of many people. These names 
are mnemonic devices for remembering now-frag- 
mented Ifiupiaq nations and family groups as well as 
differentiating members from outsiders. The lines here 
between myth (the origin stories of both people and 
landforms) and tales that contain known historical truth 
are blurred, as they are in most cultures. 

The llaganiq ta\es, for example, are a corpus of sto- 
ries that Cideon/Kahlook Barr Sr., his sister Bessie Barr 
Cross, and a few other individuals learned from their 
relatives and ancestors at Cape Espenberg: 'The place 
where I will start is an old iglu site (homesite or small 
community) at Cape Espenberg. This man's name, 
llaganiq, it's the story. His home was right at the tip of 
Espenberg." As told by Barr, the protagonist of the llaga- 
niq creation story is a strongman (an institutionalized 
Inupiaq male role) related to the Barr family far back in 
time, llaganiq, a robust and aggressive young man, re- 
mained at home to care for female relatives as his broth- 
ers traveled. But he began to terrorize area hunters, 
probably somewhere near present-day Deering. On hunt- 
ing and trading trips north, he repeatedly forced neigh- 
bors to relinquish all of their hard-won caribou skins. 
They finally ended their subservience by stuffing 
llaganiq and the skins into his departing kayak so tightly 
that he couldn't maneuver, and then killed him. 

Ilaganiq's mother was enraged to hear of her son's 
death. She took her mitten and reshaped the Cape, 
making the shoals so shallow that hunters from other 
areas would no longer be successful there (Gideon/ 
Kahlook Barr Sr. 1 987). A large whale skull marking the 
family homesite has been moved several times by Barr 
ancestor-curators, and more recently, by Shishmaref resi- 
dents and NPS personnel, to save it from encroaching 
seas. The mythological aspects of this creation text tie 
Barr's ancestors to the beginnings of their landscape 
and to superhuman kinsmen and women. The legend- 

ary components of place-naming at the Cape refer to 
llaganiq, who is at once strongman (an admirable type 
of man), hero (one who can support many), and badman 
(one who does not share), llaganiq was human. The 
message of the tale to today's Inupiaq listeners is to 
emulate Ilaganiq's good qualities and powerful bear- 
ing while remembering the character flaws that resulted 
in his death (Schaaf 1 996; Fair 1 996: 1 1 3). 

Conclusions: How Our Work Can be Used 

People always look for lots of berries, that's 
why they always go further up and further all 
the way to Ikpek and, ah, 'cause someplace 
not many berries but always go further. Look 
for more berries. My Native allotment is at 
Apquagaagzruk, right here right on this side 
and right up here someplace other one. I 
chose that area 'cause it got more berries 
sometimes. . . . That place, I find it myself. 
(Davey Ningeulook, Shishmaref, 1997) 

Place-names and associations with landscape are inti- 
mately imbedded in Kigiqtaamiut life and worldview. 
Just as the land itself has distinctive form, these place- 
names, tales, and histories provide cultural contour and 
context to what cultural geographers have referred to 
as the "occupied Earth" (Evans 1 972) and folklorists would 
surely see as the texts and texture of a people and 
their chosen ancestral place (Dundes 1 980). 

Toponyms cluster on the landscape and on our 
maps, drawing attention to complex connections be- 
tween themselves and features of the landscape. Fam- 
ily texts, descriptive-geographic names, activity names, 
creation texts, and memory toponyms all serve mul- 
tiple purposes. They reflect Ifiupiaq residence and land- 
use patterns, language and dialect (including slang), 
social relationships, the transmission of information by 
gender, economic practices, local beliefs, history, mor- 
als, and other traditional knowledge. More recently, they 
demonstrate creative interplay of old-style naming pro- 
cesses with modern ANCSA initiated land survey and 
allotment. If the land is a text for Saniq-Saniniq resi- 
dents, then the loss of traditional knowledge that would 
be transmitted in place-names and associated stories 
means that many young Itiupiat no longer hear or can 



"read" this text. 

Native peoples and Western scholars are improv- 
ing their communication about the important ties be- 
tween local landscape and traditional knowledge. In 
this respect, Shishmaref and other place-name research 
helps bridge the gap between old-style, typically natu- 
ral and spontaneous Inupiaq oral transmission of his- 
tory about place and new ways of recording and relat- 
ing such information about the Inupiaq landscape. Tra- 
ditional talk about place still occurs each day in most 
Alaska Native communities, but as elders pass away 
and modernization encroaches, Native youths take less 
time to participate in traditional activities and to listen 
actively in context. And, as it always has been, some 
individuals (elders or not) are better historians than 
others, more determined to pass such knowledge on. 
These are the performers, the eloquent historians, and 
it is essential to identif/ and work with them. 

As Shishmaref loses ground to the sea and resi- 
dents contemplate a move to a mainland location, it 
may be instructive and comforting to look to a place- 
name for precedent. Up and down the coast, once popu- 
lous villages are gone, yet the words of elders echoed 
in our research give the old ethnographic landscapes 
renewed life and underscore their timeless importance. 
Thus, in the words of Shishmaref elder and master polar 
bear hunter, Davey Ningeulook: 

The land has names, be it on the coast or 
inland, but we are beginning to forget these 
names. The days are here when we are 
starting to forget the names of the land; the 
period of forgetting the names has already 
begun. . . . Many do not know the place- 
names that we [elders] know. . . . Before, a 
person might not know place-names in a 
certain area, but a person who does know 
them would add to the knowledge. . . . Many 
people have forgotten the place-names of 
the land and, also, erosion has removed 
many of these sites to where you can no 
longer see them. Sites along the coast with 
names are no longer there. . . . When we do 
cite place-names of those removed by 
erosion, uve still mention the name of the sites, 
even though they are no longer there (Davey 
Ningeulook, 1997; emphasis added). 

During this project, we gathered place-names, ge- 
nealogies, family and community stories, migration and 
subsistence routes, as well as folktales and other tradi- 
tional forms of oral historic preservation. As in any 
field endeavor, it was critical to record as much infor- 
mation as possible, as quickly as was realistic and with 
a variety of approaches. Ultimately, an important goal 
of the project has been to generate a broader general 
understanding of Saniq-Saniniq peoples' great love and 
knowledge of their land and their abiding relationship 
with it. Final analysis of these data will also result in 
scholarly cross-cultural comparisons of Inupiaq place- 
naming with similar endeavors in other areas, including 
many distant from the Arctic. Whether remembered 
and orally transmitted, audio-taped, mapped, photo- 
graphed, filmed, or written, such records will be critical 
to the management and protection of lands where Na- 
tive peoples have lived and will continue to be. 


This essay is drawn closely from several other previ- 
ously published pieces and works in progress (Fair 1 996, 
1 997, 1 999; Fair and Ningeulook 1 995). My work with 
the late Edgar/Nunageak Ningeulook (1949-1997) on 
Shishmaref area toponyms was first funded by the Na- 
tional Park Service, Department of Cultural Resources, 
Alaska Regional Office, Shared Beringian Heritage Pro- 
gram (CA 9910-6-9035). Jeanne Schaaf, Herbert 
Anungazuk, and Tim Cochrane of the National Park 
Sen*/ice, as well as Luci Eningowuk, then-president of 
the Shishmaref IRA Village Council, all gave support 
and assistance. The NPS research formed the bedrock 
of an in-depth collaborative planning grant funded by 
the National Science Foundation (OPP-9708443) in 
collaboration with Shishmaref Native Corporation. Percy 
Nayokpuk, president of SNC, Clifford Weyiouanna, and 
all members and officers, as well as Karen Sinnok, then- 
president of the IRA Council, and Darlene Turner, cur- 
rent president, are the kind of liiupiaq movers, thinkers, 
and contributors who make research of this kind pos- 



sible. John Sinnok painstakingly transcribed most of 
our audiotapes. Ningeulook died unexpectedly in July 
1 997, and though our work faltered as a result, Herbert 
Anungazuk stepped in as lead Inupiaq scholar. We are 
indebted to Ernest S. Burch Jr., Dorothy Jean Ray, and 
Charles Lucier for their pioneering ethnographic work 
in northwest Alaska. This essay is dedicated to the el- 
ders of Shishmaref in memory of Melvin/AsitonaOlanna, 
Gideon/ Kahlook Barr Sr., Inez/Ningeulook Nayokpuk, 
Edgar/ Nunageak Ningeulook, Charley Okpowruk, Reila 
Okpowruk, Walter Nayokpuk, and Elsie Weyiouanna. It 
is written with special thanks to Morris Kiyutelluk, Percy 
Nayokpuk, Davey and Frieda Ningeulook, Han/ey and 
Bertha Pootoogooluk, Molly and Vincent Tocktoo, and 
Alex Weyiouanna for the stories, places, life lessons, 
and friendship they have been willing to share. 


1 . Exceptions to this are Momaday 1 976a and 
1976b, as well as Silko 1990. 

2. As an example, I used to receive occasional 
letters from Shishmaref about place-names, which 
almost always included information about hunting, 
weather, and daily village life and deaths. 

3. This was not a local or emic designation. In 
general, the people of this area called themselves 
either Kigiqtaamiut or by the name of their winter 
settlement. The map illustration drawn by a turn of 
the century Wales artist shows the outsider designa- 
tion Tapkak (sic). See Fig. 75. 

4. Local residents are told "never to bring home 
what is alongside of or found in a grave because the 
spirit of the deceased person is intact even after 
death." Objects placed on a grave are considered 
owned and belong at the site, while the grave itself 
is considered by Inupiaq to be inhabited. People 
buried at this place would be referred to as 
Situwaashuwaat {Anungazuk 1 997). 

5. Not all Inupiaq place-names for these riv- 
ers were available at this writing. 

6. Itibliq is the generic Qividluamiut term for a 
portage or "place for traversing." 

7. Okpowruk gave a classic framework or in- 
troduction to his narrative, which is why I have itali- 
cized the beginning and end. Gideon Barr's earlier 
tale about the portage does not identify the tale 

type, but indicates that his story contains historic 
truth as well. Most societies differentiate between 
myths, legends, folktales, and other forms of narra- 
tive (Degh and Vazsonyi 1976 [1981]. In this case, 
Okpowruk carefully identified what scholars might 
call a legend with a preface indicating that the story 
can be taken in part as historic fact, while ending 
with the comment that he does not believe all parts 
of the legend . 

8. Some of them had been taped to facilitate 
implementation of the Alaska Native Claims Settle- 
ment Act (ANCSA) after 1971 and are located with 
BIA. I contributed interviews conducted in Shishmaref 
on my earlier projects (1982, 1991), as did Edgar 

9. The NEH research was initiated by Suzi 
Jones, then Folk Arts Coordinator at Alaska State 
Council on the Arts. Each of the villages identified 
for the study by Kawerak, Inc., hired local Native 
historians and translators to do the work. These data 
remain in village archives, with Kawerak, and with 
some of the interviewers. In Shishmaref, Edgar 
Ningeulook was the primary fieldworker and coor- 

10. I regret that my early publications may 
actually contribute to this problem. We find new spell- 
ings continuously, and I have been corrected on 
some earlier spellings. Orthography for the place- 
name volumes for Shishmaref will be guided and 
checked by local Inupiaq scholars and by Lawrence 
Kaplan of Alaska Native Language Center. 

12. Some of these maps are more accessible 
to the general public than others. It was our inten- 
tion to consolidate this information into one pub- 
lished source for the benefit of Inupiaq readers in 
Shishmaref, as well as for scholars. 

13. Webster's Encyclopedic Edition, Lexicon 
Publications, Inc., New York, 1989 Edition. 

1 4. Gulliford (2000:67) discusses these cross-cul- 
tural issues by quoting Hawk Little John, a Cherokee: 
"It is difficult to verbalize in another language, for an- 
other culture, exactly what makes a place sacred." 

Anungazuk, Herbert 

1 997 Personal communication to the author. 
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"Qividluaq" : Example of Place-Name Entry Data 

Qividluaq (Qividluamiut); translation: "a place where there 
is a lagoon behind and a beach coast outside" or "small 
bank" (BIA-1 4; Koutsky, 1 981 ; Edgar Ningeulook, 6/94; 
BSNC-1 04; KTZ-009; NANA, 1 992:3/1 7). 
[According to] Gideon Kahlook Barr Sr.: 

Ancient sod houses at Qividluaq, once a 
large community, have eroded into the 
ocean, and only one house and a "ware- 
house," or cache, remain. The cache be- 
longed to William Ukaaniq and his wife Piyula 
(Beulah), who died in the 1940s. Shishmaref 
sculptor Harvey Pootoogooluk was raised at 
Qividluaq after his adoption by the elderly 
couple. Barr, whose family lived at Qividluaq 
in 1918 when he was an infant, describes the 
Saniq coast as "more likely an island all the 
way across and down to Shishmaref." He 
adds that between Qividluaq and Shishmaref 
at present, it looks as though the coast was 
uninhabited, "because all the old sites, igloo 
sites, have eroded away from the big storms 
we had in earlier days" (Barr, 1 988). 

Edgar/Nunageak Ningeulook related the following tale 
about Qividluaq, which he learned in 1 984 from Jack 
Herman Ningeulook, his paternal uncle: 

There are many ghosts in this community. At 
one time, a husband and wife were traveling 
to another settlement and planned to 
overnight in one of the sod houses at 
Qividluaq. Upon entering the house, they 
noticed that the inhabitants, a couple, were 
dead. Their faces were very distorted. The 
travelers were terribly frightened. They could 
not sleep that night, so they turned back, 
returning to their original point of origin. 
Upon their return, both husband and wife 
died instantly because they had been 
exposed to the evil spirits at Qividluaq:. This 



area was thought to have had many evil 
spirits that might claim people. But when a 
lone traveler slept there overnight, he would 
not be bothered by the spirits. 

Harvey Pootoogooluk tells many stories about 
Qividluaq. The story of Ishu, "really deep lake" or "the 
one with a devil [in it]" which follows is both family 
text and memorate handed down about Agnaaniq, his 
father's elder brother, who once killed a stranger who 
attacked him as he was hunting. This tale would have 
served to bolster his attachment to his adopted family 
as well as familiarizing him with the area: 

The man had a knife and ran after him. When 
the other man ran toward him, when this other 
man tried to use a knife on him— When he did 
so, he ran over willow thickets, qiliknausmq. . . 
.When he did not get the intruder, he went 
back to where he left the rifle. When he found 
the gun, he went back to where the intruder 
was last seen. . . . Agnaaniq \Na\X.Q6 for him to 
come closer. He was in front of the intruder. 
The intruder had a good rifle— But Agnaaniq shot 
him here, while the intruder was looking around 
for something. . . . Agnaaniq tied the [man's] rifle 
to his victim, and sank him in the lake called 
Ishu. It is called "deep lake" because it is a deep 
lake .... The intruder, his victim, had on fish 
mukluks, king salmon mukluks. He was from 
away from here, far away from here. He was an 
Indian, from a place called Igaluwik. (Harvey 
Pootoogooluk, Shishmaref, 1 993) 

References: See Burch (1 971 :1 54-5) for a discussion of 
the visible forms taken by ghosts. Koutsky writes that 
the name of the village was Salliniq, referring to the 
barrier island strand itself, which probably actually re- 
fers back to the term Saniniq (1 981 : 1 7-8). Residents of 
Qividluaq spoke a distinctive dialect and referred to 
themselves as Qividluamiut according to Morris 
Kiyutelluk (1976) and Edgar Ningeulook (1994). Key 

local families at Qividluaq included Ningeulook, 
Eningowuk, Kiyutelluk, Pootoogooluk, Walluk, and Barr. 

The Komanaseak and Nagozruk families of Wales also 
originated from this locality. Nagozruk family mem- 
bers including Kate/Ataseaq, and her brothers Sockpick, 
Adams, and Eningowuk migrated to Wales during a fam- 
ine, probably some time in the late 1 800s (McClintock, 

Ray links the village closely with Sinik, across the 
lagoon, noting that Qividluaq was said to have had 
seven houses and possibly one qazgri in 1 892 (Ray 
1983:214; Jackson 1895:97). She also notes that the 
village was called Chibamech on Kobelev's original 
1 779 map (1 983:230). Qividluaq residents went to the 
Niqianaqtuuq River on the Saniniq coast for fall fishing 
and sealing during traditional times (ibid.). The site was 
indeed once well populated; recent National Park Ser- 
vice archaeological research notes "two intact house 
depressions, three associated cache depressions, and a 
large rectangular depression" which may be the qazgri 
at one location. Nearby, another site contains nine house 
depressions and 1 3 caches, and still another has 1 1 
houses and 26 cache remains (Schaaf 1988:120). The 
remains of Harvey Pootoogooluk's boyhood home, 
the raised cache mentioned above, a grave, and scat- 
tered parts from boats are nearby (ibid.). Some of the 
houses were constructed with materials scavenged from 
shipwrecks. There is another Sinik on the Saniniq coast, 
the spit at Elephant Point, according to Charles Lucier's 
collaborator, Jessie Ralph. Qividluaq residents and their 
descendants now live in Shishmaref. 

Also known as or spelled: Kivaluaq, Kivalluaq, 
Kividluk, Kevalooauk, Kividlo, Kevediok, Kivuklouk, 
Qivaluaq, Qivaluq, Qipalut, Chibamech. 




fvtcdievai "~[ ales, Modern "J ourists: 

l^xpionng the Njai'^^aga Landscape oT ^^'-^utheni Iceland 


The subarctic North Atlantic island of Iceland has an 
austere physical landscape; treeless rolling hills, large 
lava fields, barren glaciers, active volcanoes, tumbling 
waterfalls, steaming springs, and towering cliffs com- 
mingle in surprising ways. Before the arrival of the Vi- 
kings to Iceland in 874 A.D., the island was an uninhab- 
ited, wild place. Since that time, succeeding genera- 
tions directly descendent from those first settlers have 
acculturated the land, turning it from wilderness into 
settled areas. The process of settling the land created 
an ordered society, complete with laws, property rights, 
inheritance claims, and so on (Hunt and Gilman, 1 998; 
Hann, 1 998). And yet there are few if any physical mark- 
ers of these old land divisions visible on the land- 
scape. Areas in the mountains are shared by entire com- 
munities, and fences— once extremely rare— are even 
today sparingly employed, allowing the horses and 
sheep to roam freely. 

Iceland's population is today slightly over a quarter 
of a million people. Before the 1950s, Iceland's peak 
population had been around 70,000 people, a number 
reached by 1 250 A.D. Thereafter, famine, disease, and 
low birth rates had reduced Iceland's population at times 
to precariously low numbers, in an area of more than 
1 03,000 square kilometers (40,000 square miles). This 
low population density meant that the landscape was 
not altered heavily by man-made projects. Perhaps the 
most dramatic human action was the quick clearing, 
within the first one-hundred years of human habitation. 

of the shrub-like dwarf birch trees that covered much 
of the island (Vesteinsson 2000: 165). Thereafter, Ice- 
land became virtually treeless. 

Because of the poor quality— and later absolute 
scarcity— of trees, the early settlers in Iceland modified 
their traditional timber-dependent house construction 
techniques, and instead began building houses out of 
turf and rock, a practice that continued into the 1 940s. 
Only fifty years after abandonment, such houses quickly 
become indistinguishable from the surrounding land- 
scape. Combined with the dearth of trees, fences, or 
obvious man-made projects, the lack of old buildings 
gives Iceland's landscape an unparalleled sense of 
openness. This encourages broad outlooks across 
vast distances, as any glance at photographs of Ice- 
land will quickly confirm (Fig. 83). From the road- 
side, one takes in entire valleys, regions, and moun- 
tains many miles away. 

Landscape in a Cultural Context 

To outsiders, the openness of the Icelandic landscape 
can easily be interpreted as the emptiness of thai land- 
scape (see Callaway, this volume). But to make this 
assumption is to overlook a fundamental aspect of the 
Icelandic culture. For Icelanders, the efforts of their an- 
cestors to claim and settle this island are of supreme 
importance, on both a practical and symbolic level. 
Land ownership claims are dependent upon it, while at 
the same time, their sense of human agency is height- 

2 5 5 

ened by reflecting on that process of making the wild 
civilized. Far from being a simple physical entity, as it 
might be for a modern Western city dweller, land is a 
hotly contested and central part of Icelandic culture. 
The Farmer's Party is the strongest party in Icelandic 
politics, and laws exist banning foreigners from owning 
land, especially in the countryside. The foremost Ice- 
landic artists are all landscape painters, and today pho- 
tography books of Icelandic landscapes— though par- 
tially intended for tourist consumption— are extremely 

Beyond economics, politics, and art, Icelanders also 
give the landscape meaning through their storytelling 
in both oral and written form. By remembering, retell- 
ing, and writing stories about the original settlers, of 
later medieval saints and sinners, and of recent notable 
figures, they retain knowledge of the culture-history of 
the land. An example illustrates how widespread this 
knowledge is: a professor from the University of 
Reykjavik regularly took his students on a field trip to 
southern Iceland as part of a course on Icelandic his- 
tory and literature. He always stopped the bus at a 
certain spring, and told the students the story of 
Cudmund the Good, Bishop of Iceland in the thirteenth 
century. This bishop took as his holy duty the blessing 
of cliffs, springs, and islands. Once special evocation 
was said over a particular spring; all that washed their 
face in it afterward would be cleansed of all sins. Every 
year, as the professor would stop beside this spring 
near the roadside and tell the students this was the 
famous spring blessed by Cudmund, a local farmer 
would stand nearby and listen. But after the professor 
left with his students, the local farmer would inform 
any passerby that again the professor had gotten it 
wrong. According to the farmer, the actual spring 
blessed by the bishop was a few hundred yards to the 
east of the one pointed out by the professor. 

This local knowledge of the landscape is retained 
mostly by the elderly farmers who take pride in know- 
ing the names, stories, and places of importance in their 
immediate area. They grew up at a time when Iceland- 

ers lived in the same area their whole lives, as had their 
family for generations before, and stories about the 
landscape were common at family gatherings or in con- 
versations with neighbors. Today's Icelanders have a 
different experience; many families have left the coun- 
tryside to reap the benefits of the education, jobs, and 
health care provided in the capitol. American popular 
culture first introduced when an American base was 
established in Iceland just after World War II— offered 
new entertainment choices. But one aspect of Icelan- 
dic culture has coincidentally safeguarded against these 
changes obliterating generations of accumulated sto- 
ries: a love of the written word. 

Books About the Land 

Icelanders are proud that their population is one-hun- 
dred percent literate, and reading and writing have been 
the purview of subsistence farmers almost as commonly 
as priests and other members of the upper class since 
the thirteenth century. According to Halldor Laxness, 
"Icelanders have always had a fascination with the writ- 
ten word." However, knowledge gained from books is 
not automatically given precedence over traditional 
folklore. Farmers whose shelves are filled with books 
also maintain a vibrant cultural belief in supernatural 
beings such as little people (even diverting the course 
of a major construction project so as not to disturb a 
purported "little people" settlement). For non-Iceland- 
ers (Mendingar, literallyout-landers), the lack of distinc- 
tion between oral and written knowledge in Icelandic 
culture can be difficult to grasp, but the two coexist 
as complementary epistemological systems. Neither 
is automatically granted an air of authenticity, and both 
are considered reliable. 

Beginning in the 1 920s, the Travel Association of 
Iceland began producing annual books about Iceland 
for Icelanders that cover specific regions and districts. 
These books often incorporate the knowledge of local 
farmers, or were written by the farmers themselves and 
seamlessly blend knowledge from various sources into 
a single document about a region (for example, 



83/ Iceland's treeless landscape allows for expansive i 
(threehorned) Mountain. 

Codasteinn, a yearbook about the Rangar region in 
southern Iceland). Traditional stories, facts about geo- 
graphic formations, names of specific farms and land- 
scape features, and family histories are all included. 

The regional books mimic one of the first books 
ever written in Icelandic, called Landndmabok, which 
chronicles the lives and adventures of the first settlers, 
the regions in which they settled, and the place-names 
they set upon the geographic features. Iceland was 
uninhabited when the first Viking seafarers voyaged 
across the North Atlantic (Vesteinsson 2000), save for 
a few recluse Irish monks who quickly left. The first 
settlers were therefore free to name the features of 
land after themselves (Hjorleif s Hill, Ingolf s Mountain); 
after the resources they found important (Salmon River, 
Forested Hill); and also according to their physical ap- 
pearance (White River, Smokey Bay). Though many of 
these place-names were established more than 1 ,000 
years ago, they are still intelligible to Icelanders today 
because of the conservative nature of the Icelandic 
language. By simply parsing the place-names, Iceland- 
ers have a ready mnemonic to remind them of the 

of the landscape, such as this one towards Thrihyrning 

people and stories that inspired the place-names. 

In the 1 960s, the tradition of remembering regional 
histories and narratives found expression in an unillus- 
trated, two-volume set called Landid Thitt (your land), 
which features extensive histories on selected places 
of interest. At times, the same pages of the book refer- 
ence a saga hero, a medieval priest, a seventeenth cen- 
tury merchant, and a modern painter, as long as they all 
had a connection with the same landscape area. In 1 978, 
a few years after the opening of the first road linking all 
the settlements of Iceland (called the Ring Road), a 
single illustrated volume entitled Islenska Vega Handbokin 
(Icelandic roadtravel handbook) came out. Organized 
by region and road number, it keys detailed maps to 
numbered paragraphs that provide information rang- 
ing from geological factoids to medieval saga excerpts 
to nineteenth century folk beliefs. The Vega Handbokin 
has been a best seller since that time through many 
revisions and has been translated into English and Ger- 
man. It is a common experience— including for the au- 
thors of this paper— that no drive into the countryside 
is made without this "road bible" as a constant com- 



panion. In essence, it fills the relatively featureless Ice- 
landic landscape with culturally relevant pieces of 
information, making each drive a pilgrimage through 
the Icelandic storehouse of narratives. There is little 
concern that the cultural landscape knowledge is in 
danger of disappearing, especially since government 
support exists to increase that knowledge through ar- 
chaeological surveys and historic research (Ragnheidar 
Traustadottir, coordinator of the National Museum of 
Iceland Regional Survey, pers. comm. to E.W., 2002). 

The Cultural Centrality of Sagas 

While several books testify to the long tradition of re- 
taining local histories, they tend to elide the cultural 
preference for one type of narrative, the sagas. Begin- 
ning in the twelfth century, Icelanders began writing on 
calfskin in their native tongue stories that had been 
passed down orally, some for over three hundred years. 
Called sogwr (sing, saga) from the verb "to say"— it also 
has the meaning "history" or simply "story"— sagas are 
at once sophisticated literature and living folktales. Most 
sagas are believed to have been first composed orally 
and then written down in much the same way they 
were spoken, though this point is under constant schol- 
arly debate (see Olason 1 998; Sigurdsson 2004 for sum- 
maries). Since the thirteenth century, the written books 
have been recopied, incorporating new elements of 
the stories as the folktales changed, until a huge cor- 
pus accumulated. Each retelling incorporates new 
thoughts and new knowledge, blurring the line between 
literature and folklore. Because each builds on some- 
thing that had existed before, there is no acknowledged 
"author" as such; most sagas are anonymous works of 
literature. This might indicate that they were so well 
known, common, and retold so often that they were 
considered the property of the culture rather than any 
one person. Though philologists have made careful 
comparisons between different versions to uncover 
changes in the stories, which have been used as evi- 
dence of authorial intent (Hastrup 1 985; Palsson 1 992), 
these are often changes that reflect the political reality 

of the author's own day, as would be expected of any 
living folkloric tradition. 

The sagas are classified by academics into different 
types according to subject matter. Many stories are about 
bishops, saints, or priests; several books are devoted to 
the kings of Norway and Denmark; and in the fifteenth 
century, romantic tales from foreign lands were trans- 
lated into Icelandic. The preservation of many of these 
books (and the obvious signs of use) suggests that 
they were highly valued in their day; the sagas contin- 
ued to be recopied by hand until the nineteenth cen- 
tury. While all forms have value, by far the largest body 
of written stories— called the Sagas of the Icelanders- 
Is about the first settlers and their descendants as they 
struggled to create an ordered society out of scratch in 
a newly inhabited land. As the "origin myth" for the 
Iceland nation, the Sagas of the Icelanders are the best- 
known and most-loved stories (Kellogg 1997). Since 
the eighteenth century, they have been printed, trans- 
lated, and sold en masse around the world, especially 
in Scandinavia, the British Isles, and the United States. 
Also, these tales have received the greatest level of 
attention from scholars at universities around Northern 
Europe and North America for the last one-hundred 
years. In the remainder of this paper, when the term 
saga is used, it should be understood to refer to Sagas 
of the Icelanders. 

Once, when Vigdis Finnbogadottir, then President 
of Iceland, was giving a talk in Germany, she discussed 
how the European landscape is dominated by medi- 
eval castles. By contrast, she noted that in Iceland, 
there are no such monuments to the works of man, 
but there are "castles hidden in the landscape. We call 
them the Sagas of Icelander^' (pers. comm. to A.B., 1 986). 
In this analogy, the history of kings or saints or priests 
would be cottages, while the sagas are given the sta- 
tus of castles. Though saga place names are recogniz- 
able in the farms that still bear those names today, 
it is not those particular farms themselves that are the 
castles. Rather, those farms are reminders of stories 
"hidden"— or situated— in a landscape, and that entire 



landscape is culturally meaningful. 

Sagas in Icelandic Daily Life 

The literary fecundity of the sagas is clearly demon- 
strative of cultural worth and effort, but the sagas are 
more than books to sit on a shelf: they are a part of the 
daily consciousness of Icelanders. Beginning in the 
sixteenth century, poems about saga characters circu- 
lated around Iceland, and were extremely popular. One 
poem from the eighteenth century by a well-known 
poet, Sigurd Breidfjord, about the main female villain 
of NJal's Saga, Hallgerd, cast her in a favorable light. 
An indignant farmer, couched in the traditional view of 
Hallgerd as the perpetrator of evil against the main 
hero in the saga, countered with another poem, which 
was quickly passed around (Sveinnson 1 958). Such was 
the potency of the saga narratives more than 800 
years after the events they recount. 

Today, the sagas are not only taught in the schools 
formally, but they are commonly discussed informally 
at home, especially in the rural distrias. Linguistic phrases 
and cliches spring from events in the sagas: 

—ad lyfta Grettis would be the English equiva- 
lent to "lifting a heavy load" of biblical reference, 
but the Icelandic phrase makes particular reference 
to a saga hero, Crettir, who was able to lift an 
incredibly heavy rock. 

—When young children are caught doing some- 
thing wrong, their guardians will often use a phrase 
from NJal's Saga, "Tekid hafjeg hvolpa tvo, hvalskal 
vil tha gera, " meaning, 'Tve captured two puppies, 
what should I do with them?" a tacit threat by one of 
the more ferocious Viking warriors, Skarphedinn 
from NJdl s Saga. 

—Dyr mundi Haflidi allir ("expensive would it be to 
pay for all of Halflid's life") is a phrase sometimes 
used when an expensive price is quoted for mer- 
chandise, for example, since in SwHunga Saga, the 
family of a slain warrior (Halflid) is awarded an ab- 
surdly high compensation amount. 

The most famous quotes from the sagas are known to 
all, even if they have never read the sagas, including 

84/ This rendering of tine meeting between dapper 
Gunnar and his beautiful future wife Hallgerd by A. 
Bloch was reproduced as a postcard, 1 929. 

the final statement by the main female in Laxdala Saga, 
'Theim vareg verst, ereg unni mest" (he I treated worst, 
I loved/valued the most). 

Mass media including newspapers, film, television 
and radio programs also do their part to popularize the 
saga characters (Fig. 84). Several recent debates about 
saga characters that played themselves out in the na- 
tional papers, and sometimes the nightly news, in- 
cluded: the sexual preference of Njal; the sexual 
problems of Hrutur; Egil's drinking habits; Gunnar 
and Hallgerd's marriage problems and the national 
affiliation of Leif Eriksson. The sagas also are inescap- 
ably part of the daily life of Icelanders living in 
Reykjavik, who drive on Gunnarsbraut (Gunnar's road, 
named after the saga character Gunnar) or along the 



other streets named after saga characters (Helgason 

Through these public debates, Icelanders are par- 
ticipating in a group performance of their identity. They 
are demonstrating what they have in common with each 
other: a shared heritage originating in the time of settle- 
ment as remembered in the sagas. Each debate in the 
paper, each cliche used in conversation, and each quote 
from a saga is simultaneously an outgrowth of that cul- 
tural heritage and a performative assurance of its con- 
tinued cultural validity. It is a testament to the stability 
of Icelandic culture, despite being under foreign rule 
of Denmark and Norway for almost 800 years, that this 
connection to events and people who lived more than 
1 ,000 years ago is still deeply felt. 

The Saga of Burnt Njal 

Though the Icelandic sagas as a body of literature have 
received much academic interest abroad and continue 
to elicit common cultural interest in Iceland, a few works 
do stand out as more highly valued for various rea- 
sons, including their breadth of coverage iHeimskhngla); 
historical import (the Vinland Sagas); or narrative struc- 
ture (Laxadala Saga). For the purposes of this paper, we 
will be examining one saga of that latter category. The 
Saga of Burnt Njdl, or simply NJdl's Saga. It is an espe- 
cially carefully constructed saga, with common novel- 
istic elements such as foreshadowing, a spiraling com- 
plexity in events, and a dramatic final climax. Unlike 
most sagas, it is simply too long for one to imagine it 
was recited orally, and might therefore have been origi- 
nally composed as a written work. The Saga of Burnt 
A//'fl/ contains 1 59 chapters, and a recent English trans- 
lation occupies 219 pages (Hreinsson 1 997a). But even 
in this case, where authorial effort in weaving an intri- 
cate tapestry by combining elements from perhaps 
several folktales to create one epic story is obvious, 
the author's name is unknown. 

In very brief form, the saga focuses around a hero 
named Cunnar and his wise friend Njal. Conflicts arise 
during each one's relationships with women, their chil- 

dren, their neighbors, and their rivals in other parts of 
the country and abroad. In typical fashion for sagas, 
these conflicts result in one party killing a member of 
the other party. The case is then brought before the 
appropriate legal body (the first Icelanders established 
a parliament and law court in 930 A.D.), where mon- 
etary or legal compensation (in the form of banish- 
ment) is sought. Though the saga is called the Saga of 
Burnt Njal, a great many of these conflicts actually 
revolve around Cunnar, with Njal supplying astute and 
sometimes tricky legal advice to Cunnar that often an- 
gers the other party, thus provoking further conflict. 
Cunnar dies after being attacked at his home by over 
thirty men (and betrayed by his problematic though 
beautiful wife) near the middle of the story, and then 
the course of events continues to play out with Njal's 
sons inheriting Cunnar's conflicts and some of their 
own. Near the end of the story, Njal's home is also 
ambushed, and as his enemies guard the doors, he, 
his wife, two daughters, three sons and one grand- 
son are burned alive inside the house. His son-in- 
law, Kari, manages to escape, and finally avenges 
this terrible deed. 

This adventurous tale, complex story line, and won- 
derfully drawn characters have supplied much fodder 
for debate among Icelanders and foreign academics. It 
has been taught in school in Iceland since the turn of 
the century, and many university courses have been 
developed around it. Ceorge Dascent did the first En- 
glish translation in 1 861 , and from this sprung a series 
of alternative translations stretching to the present day. 
German and Scandinavian translations have been no 
less prolific since the late nineteenth century. In pref- 
aces to many of these translations, Njal's Saga is de- 
scribed as the greatest work of literature in the Icelan- 
dic Saga tradition (Magnusson and Palsson 1 960). 

Njal's Saga and the Icelandic Landscape 

What is less noted in these academic discussions is 
the relationship between this saga and the Icelandic 
landscape, especially the landscape of southern Ice- 



land where most, though not all, of the saga action 
takes place (Fig. 85). Specific local details in Njdl's Saga 
allow for the residents of the area to feel a personal 
connection to the story and the characters. The saga 
writers used the sense of wide vistas and landscape 
perspectives described above in creating their tales 
(Kaalund 1 877). For instance, the scene just before the 
famous burning of Njal's farm, as his enemies gather, is 
set up through this horseback ride through the land- 

Then they mounted their horses and rode up 
into the mountains and on to Fiskivotn and 
on to the west of these, and then headed 
due west for Maelifellssand, with the 
Eyjafjallajokul to their left, and then down to 
Codaland and from there to Markarfljot. At 
mid afternoon they came to Thrihyrning and 
waited there until early evening. By that time 
everyone had arrived except Ingjald of 
Keldur, and the Sigfussons condemned him 
strongly, but Flosi told them not to blame 
Ingjald while he was not there— "we will settle 
with him later." (Hreinsson 1997a: 152). 

The knowledge of the land conveyed in this quote 

begins to hint at how intricately tied narrative is to 
landscape in Icelandic folkloric saga tradition.' As the 
all-knowing saga narrator sets up the characters and 
their conflicts, scenes shift between farms, some in other 
districts far away, if not in fact in foreign lands. But the 
sagas almost invariably describe the specific routes 
taken, and verify this by listing the number of days the 
character took in getting from place to place. The nar- 
rator does not simply skip from one locale to another, 
but rather takes his reader (or listeners) through a men- 
tal journey across the landscape, pointing out land- 
marks along the way. For this reason, familiarity with 
the Icelandic sagas tends to breed familiarity with the 
Icelandic landscape. 

Njdl's Saga is certainly no exception to this, whether 
one follows along with Cunnar as he goes to settle 
with his cousin's ex-husband's father on the east coast, 
or along with Karl as he avenges his family members in 
Norway. It was perhaps this sense of movement across 
the landscape that first inspired English visitors to Ice- 
land in the nineteenth century to try to physically re- 

85/ Map of Iceland showing the range of territory covered by characters in Njal's Saga. The location of the Saga 
Centre is between HIidarendi and Bergthorshvol on the southern coast. 



trace the narrative story tine scene by scene. While not 
always taken in strictly chronological order, visitors in 
Reykjavik would head eastward, across the mountains, 
as had Cunnar after divorcing his first wife, back to the 
land of his childhood, Hiidarendi in Flotshlid. Such 
pilgrimages to the saga sites were once popular for 
academics and elites from the U.K., where translations 
of NJdl's Saga were especially common. The well-re- 
spected historical painter, W.G. Collingwood, visited 
Iceland in the 1 890s, and his paintings of the saga land- 
scapes as well as his travel book describing his jour- 
ney undoubtedly contributed to this phenomenon 
(Collingwood and Stefansson 1 899). 

It should be noted that in some cases, in their en- 
thusiasm and as a reflection of how closely tied the 
sagas seem to be to the landscape, scholars and histo- 
rians in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries either 
named or renamed places with saga related-names, ac- 
cording to their own interpretations (Fridriksson 1 994). 
This has led to multiple places with the same saga- 
inspired place-name, and discussions about which place- 
name is more legitimate are ongoing. This suggests to 
some— especially archaeologists relying on place-name 
data when conducting surveys and determining where 
to dig— that the saga place-names are unreliable. Re- 
search at the Icelandic Cultural Ministry (Ornefastofnu) 
suggests there is considerable continuity of place names, 
at least from the seventeenth century (Gudrun 
Gudmansdottir, pers. comm. to E.W.). The authors 
of this paper offer that where renaming has taken 
place, especially by the local population, it can be 
taken as a sign of the living tradition of Iceland's 
saga landscapes. 

To date, numerous books have been published 
describing saga sites and the probable routes taken 
across landscape, the newest publication being a book 
titled NJdluslodir, where Bjarnason (1 999) lists and de- 
scribes all the sites mentioned in NJdl 's Saga. 

It is not just in the general route that the sagas 
relate geographic details. Understanding the action 
described in certain scenes depends on a more in-depth 

knowledge of the landscape. For instance, in one battle 
scene, Cunnar's physical prowess is well demonstrated 
by his ability to ward off thirty attackers, but his mental 
quickness in diverting his route, when he sensed an 
ambush, to take him to a uniquely defendable place (a 
large rock near a swift moving river; Fig. 86) is perhaps 
the more important part of the narrative. In both gen- 
eral outline and in specific scenes and action sequences, 
the sagas are tied to knowledge of the land. 

Local Identity and NJdl's Saga 

The international renown of NJdl's Saga has certainly 
been a point of pride for the entire Icelandic nation- 
small and isolated as it is— and cited often at academic 
conferences and in political speeches as evidence of 
Icelandic skill with the written word. But beyond its 
literary recognition, NJdl's Saga also has a more con- 
crete, local value. According to the saga, the main char- 
acter Njal lived at a certain farm called Bergthorshvol, 
and a farm of that same name still exists on the same 
piece of land in the south of Iceland, on the coast 
opposite the Vestman Islands. The main hero, Gunnar, 
is called Gunnar of Hiidarendi because he owned a 
farm named Hiidarendi in the hilly district (Fijotshlid, 
the river hillside) inland from Njal's farm. Hiidarendi also 
exists today as a working farm, and the entire Fijotshlid 
area is still a major farming area in southern Iceland. 
Though few local residents claim direct ancestry from 
Njal or Gunnar, all Icelanders are descendants of those 
early settlers. 

For the local residents of the area where the charac- 
ters in NJdl's Saga lived, the saga is far more than a 
great work of literature. It is their own regional story, as 
well as their own personal history. It is, in other words, 
part of their identity. If debates about the sagas are 
common in the national newspapers, debates about 
the NJdl's Saga characters for residents of this district 
of Iceland are codified performative moments of that 
identity in the form of conversations on almost a daily 
basis (Hymes 1 983). One amusing example comes from 
a recluse farmer, who rarely interacted socially with his 



86/ Cunnarsstein (Cunnar's stone), believed by the locals 
a successful defense against thirty armed men. 

neighbors. But after reading a flyer put out by the 
women's committee announcing an event on August 
23, 2001 to commemorate the burning of Njal's farm, 
he had to speak up. After taking several stiff drinks, he 
called up the event organizer, and announced that there 
was a terrible problem. You see, he had spent many 
years reading Njal's Saga carefully, and by looking at 
clues in the story about the ripeness of the hay and the 
care given to the sheep, he had determined beyond a 
shadow of a doubt that the burning had actually taken 
place on August 21. He advised the commemoration 
be moved two days earlier, accordingly. 

This is but one of dozens of examples of how com- 
mon discussions of Njal's Saga are for the residents of 
the area. Such a situation is not unique to southern 
Iceland; most districts of Iceland have a saga that took 
place in their area (Hreinsson 1 997b:388-90). Because 
of this, sagas landscapes— landscapes tied to specific 
saga narratives are a defining characteristics of much 
of the Icelandic landscape. 

to be the location where Cunnar and two others lodged 

The Saga Centre in Hvollsvollur 

The preceeding argument has outlined the extent to 
which Iceland's cultural landscapes, particularly saga 
landscapes, have been continually preserved and made 
meaningful within Icelandic culture. But that culture has 
undergone tremendous change in the last fifty years, 
and the question arises as to how the tradition of saga 
landscapes can be incorporated into modern realities. 
One community, Hvollsvollur, in the region of southern 
Iceland where Njal's Saga mostly took place, has un- 
dertaken a unique experiment to see whether or not 
the Icelandic sense of a voyage through a narrative- 
rich saga landscape can become a commodity within 
a capitalist economic system; in so doing, they have 
also posed the broader question of whether or not a 
landscape which is essentially sacred in one culture 
can be interpreted and presented in such a way that it 
becomes meaningful to foreign tourists who do not 
share that cultural background. 

In the late 1990s, when the southern part of Ice- 



land (more specifically, the regional administrative unit 
Rangarvallasysia) was facing a huge economic slow 
down as the younger generation stopped farming and 
the fishing market bottomed out, the district represen- 
tatives wanted to find a quick way to increase revenue. 
The only industry at that time that was doing well in 
Iceland was tourism. Tourism has been a booming in- 
dustry since the 1970s, thanks in no small part to 
Icelandair, the only commercial airline servicing Ice- 
land (until late, when it has partnered with SAS). It has 
heavily promoted travel to Iceland in both the U.S. and 
Europe by offering discounted fares and special week- 
end trips. Often these include tours to the natural won- 
ders of Iceland: Cullfoss, a magnificent waterfall that 
tumbles more than ninety feet, or to Sneafellsjokull, 
the most westerly glacier. The austere beauty of these 
sites is well conveyed in the glossy brochures given 
out at every hotel. Buses depart on regularly sched- 
uled tours from both the airport and various hotels for 
these natural wonders. Tour companies rely on the in- 
nate allure of such destinations, and this approach has 
successfully made tourism the second largest national 
industry, after fishing. A recent Gallup poll found that 
there were as many tourists to Iceland in the summer of 
2000 as there are Icelanders (280,000). 

The local governmental officials in southern Ice- 
land understandably wanted "a piece of that action." 
But there are few if any outstanding natural wonders in 
this region; mostly there are broad plains, pleasant riv- 
ers, and comely rolling hillsides. It is not a place to 
inspire awe, but rather to foster feelings of comfort. A 
nearby forest is one of the few in Iceland, which makes 
it popular with Icelanders, but it is not what visitors 
from places with real forests— like the Black Forest in 
Germany or the Redwood Forest in California— would 
make a special effort to see. And as in all of Iceland, 
there are no large buildings or other outstanding man- 
made wonders to behold in southern Iceland. 

What southern Iceland does have is Njdl's Saga. As 
described above, a select class of tourists from England 
and Scandinavia had been coming to this part of Ice- 

land specifically because of NJal's Saga since the late 
nineteenth century. Travel books about Iceland 
(i.e.Russel 1914) had always highlighted this region as 
NJdluslod, the area where Njdl's Saga took place (Fig. 
87, see below also). Although only sixty of two-hun- 
dred of the place-names mentioned in Njal's Saga are 
found in this area (Bjarnason 1 999), no other district 
has a greater concentration. Most importantly, the two 
main characters, Gunnar and Njal, lived in this area. 
Thus, it was quite logical that the district representa- 
tives decided to gamble on encouraging tourists to 
visit Rangarvallasysia because of Njdl's Saga. For 
these locals, the landscape was naturally filled with 
stories of saga heroes and exciting events, thanks 
to the unknown author of Njdl's Saga. An Icelander 
does not look at Gunnar's farm at HIidarend without 
associating it with the hero of Njdl's Saga and his wife 
Hallgerd. And the mountain Thrihyrning (see Fig. 83), 
in the mind of an Icelandic traveler, is connected with 
the story of Flosi, who hid in a valley at the top of that 
mountain after the dramatic fire at Bergthorshvol. The 
Icelanders and foreigners who know Njdl's Saga look 
at the landscape and see not just the physical fea- 
tures: a fast-running river or a low, green hill. Instead, 
these natural features lead Icelanders to think about 
the exciting and important events that happened here 
more than 1 ,000 years ago. This shared, imagined cul- 
tural landscape was tangible enough to the local com- 
munity leaders that they believed they could make a 
tourist attraction around it, the Saga Centre. Because 
this tourist attraction relies on the pre-existing cultural 
landscape of southern Iceland, created primarily through 
a specific saga narrative, it is an appropriate focus in 
seeking to understand saga landscapes in their modern 
manifestation. What this analysis suggests is that the 
existence of the Saga Centre not only serves to pre- 
serve the cultural landscape, it also is a transformative 
agent of that landscape, giving it new meaning. 

Beginning of the Saga Centre 

Beginning in 1996, community leaders from the ten 



87/ A sign along the main highway indicating the boundary of the community of Fljotshlid (^Viox.sUWba.fUrep'pur) , a 
pan of the larger Njaiuslod {H]k\ViS\6^) region. 

towns that make up Ragnarvallasysia had meetings 
to discuss a proposal to create a special tour of the 
places mentioned in NjdI's Saga. Six of the ten com- 
munities allocated funds from their annual budgets to- 
ward the development of this idea, and the mayors of 
each contributing town appointed a board. Early on, 
the tour was envisioned as a two-day trip with a night 
in a hotel, and brochures were printed, describing this 
tour. It was quickly determined that a building would 
be necessary as a specific destination in what is other- 
wise an amorphous area! destination, and it could also 
serve as a starting point from which the tours could 
depart. In the building, several components were in- 
cluded: a tourist center with leaflets about area attrac- 
tions, a sales shop, some office space, an exhibition 
hall, and a Viking style dinning area."^ For the first two 
years, there were few bookings for the tour. 

In late 1996, the board hired a designer and pur- 
chased a building, calling it "The Saga Centre". The 

building was located in Hvollsvollur, which is cen- 
trally located within the Rangarvallasysia and hap- 
pens to be the hometown of one of the strongest pro- 
ponents of the idea, a dentist and community leader. A 
designer was hired, Bjorn G. Bjornsson, one of the most 
experienced exhibition creators in Iceland. In going 
about his job of designing the center, he traveled to 
many international Viking exhibitions and sites, in- 
cluding the Jorvik Center in York, the Dublin Na- 
tional Museum, L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfound- 
land, and museums in Scandinavia. 

The exhibition reflects the influence of established 
Viking exhibitions in that it contains a broad discus- 
sion about the Vikings and the Viking Age, which takes 
up approximately a third of the floor space. Another 
section focuses on the history of saga writing in Ice- 
land, discussing such personages as the famous histo- 
rian and explainer of saga poetry, Snorri Sturlusson. 
The remainder of the exhibition, slightly less than half 



the floor space, focuses on NJal's Saga itself. In one of 
the letters from the designer to the Viking Adventure 
and Feast in Dublin (Sept. 1 3, 1 996), the designer com- 
mented that the sagas are an underutilized asset in 
Icelandic tourism, and it seems indeed he had few ex- 
amples from which to model this exhibition. To "ex- 
hibiting" the saga, a personality profile of the main 
characters and a brief overview of the main action scenes 
in each section— primarily through extensive quotes 
on the wall and historic paintings inspired by the saga 
action— is attempted. No photographs of the landscapes 
are used, and there are no artifacts in the exhibition, 
save modern recreations. While the exhibition is an 
important part of the visitor's understanding of the saga, 
the main focus seems to have been on creating an 
exhibition that would meet international standards for 
a Viking exhibition, coupled with what might be called 
an uncertainty as to how to handle the exhibition of 
the narrative of the saga itself. 

Changes and Successes 

In other ways as well, the Saga Centre, though locally 
inspired and locally funded, has attempted in its devel- 
opment to be internationally savvy. In 1 999, it hired 
Arthur Bjorgvin Bollason, a foreign radio correspon- 
dent, television personality, and tour guide to be its 
director. His knowledge of tourism in Iceland and good 
contacts in the media were seen as special assets from 
the point of view of the local magistrates. Since be- 
coming director, he has instituted a number of changes, 
all intended to make the Saga Centre more palatable 
to an international audience by focusing less on the 
narrative details of the saga and more on the individual 
characters in the saga. The tours were shortened from 
two days to several hours and divided into tours for 
Icelanders and tours for tourists. A dining hall with 
Viking-style wooden benches was completed in 2001, 
allowing the Saga Centre to begin offering traditional 
meals to participants in the bus tours, which makes 
visiting the Saga Centre a day-long excursion. Some 
groups forgo the bus tour and come only for the enter- 

tainment offered on weekend nights. Friday night has 
a one-hour musical play based on nineteenth century 
songs about the Njdl's Saga characters. On Saturday, 
a play is shown about Cunnar and his notorious wife 
Hallgerd— she refused to give him strands of her long 
hair when his bowstring broke, thus leaving her hus- 
band unable to defend himself against an onslaught of 
his enemies. Both are told in Icelandic with English 
text as a handout, and they are very popular with Ice- 
landers and foreigners, and convenient for those for 
whom the bus tour is physically difficult. Everyone who 
works at the Saga Centre, including the men who sing 
in the musical, are locals from the area, except the 
director (A.B.B.).^ In this way, though offering a variety 
of options to visitors, the Saga Centre has maintained a 
strong connection to the local community. This has 
been accomplished in the face of a markedly more 
visible profile. Newspaper articles about the newly 
added entertainment has encouraged Icelandic visitors, 
while tour companies adding the Saga Centre as a des- 
tination choice for bus and cruise ship groups has greatly 
increased international visitorship. 

Visitor Profile 

All of this has combined to make the Saga Centre one 
of the most visited cultural tourist destinations in Ice- 
land. In the summer of 2001 only visiting the site of 
the original parliament, which is also a beautiful na- 
tional park in a tremendous natural setting, was more 
popular. The fact that Hvollsvollur, a small and rather 
nondescript farming community that is a 1 00 kilometer 
(60 miles) drive from the capitol of Reykjavik, has be- 
come so well visited, and profitable, ^ is remarkable. 

Visitors to the Saga Centre have been a surprising 
mix of foreigners and Icelanders. The original target 
audience was foreigners, though certainly given the 
manner in which Icelanders like to explore their own 
landscapes, it was assumed Icelanders would come as 
well. During the summer of 2001 , more than 1 7,000 
visitors came, sixty-five percent Icelanders, and thirty- 
five percent foreigners. Most are over fifty years of 



■HP T'^^ 

88/ The first stop on the tour, Hof, where visitors must visualize several farms that used to be located in the area. 

age, but there are also large student groups in the 
autumn and the spring. The visitors are extremely di- 
verse and cross gender and class divisions: during one 
Saturday, there were two groups taking the tour si- 
multaneously, one of professors from the teachers' train- 
ing school, and the other group was the crew from a 
fishing trawling company. 

Defining Njalusidd 

While all of the activities at the Saga Centre are inter- 
esting from a museological and tourist industry point 
of view, of primary concern for this paper is the Saga 
Centre's function as the starting and ending point for 
journeys through the saga landscape. 

The tours are designed to extend that sense of a 
narrative-filled landscape to those who may be less 
familiar with NJdl's Saga. It consists of either vans or 
buses that are filled with groups, both foreign and Ice- 
landic, led by Saga Centre guides. The groups often 
arrive together to the Saga Centre. If they have an- 
nounced their plans ahead of time (which most groups 

do), they are met and led through the exhibition by the 
director. After that overview, a knowledgeable local 
guide joins them on the bus, and the tour begins. The 
buses take a particular route through the landscape, 
stopping at places that are described and mentioned 
in NJdl's Saga (see below). At each stop, the guides 
retell or reread the portion of the saga that is relevant 
to that spot, and answer tourists' questions. The stops 
typically last fifteen minutes or so, with the guide say- 
ing a few words, including reading from the saga, and 
then tourist taking photographs, walking around and 
asking questions, before returning to the van (Fig. 88). 

Given the nature of the saga, which includes scenes 
set on the west coast of Iceland, at the National Assem- 
bly site near Lake Thingvellir, and scenes in Norway 
and England, choices needed to be made about what 
to include and what to exclude in the bus tours. The 
political motivation to get people to come to this par- 
ticular region surely influenced the choice of sites, lim- 
iting it to those sites within the boundaries of the six 
communities that contributed funds toward the creation 



of the Saga Centre. These communities, and indeed 
perhaps others, have considered themselves part of 
the Njaluslod (NJaluslod) area since the eighteenth cen- 
tury, when this area name was first coined. The name 
itself is broadly understood: a compound of the name 
of Njal, the main character in the saga, in possessive 
form (Njalu), and the noun slod isloS), which is a geo- 
graphic term suggesting an area subject to common 
forces, as would be used for run-off plains for a par- 
ticular river, and so on. In the same manner that the 
glacial rivers and sand erosion have through the centu- 
ries changed the face of the land in the Njal's Saga 
region, the unknown author of the saga, and all the 
generations who have retold the story since, have 
managed to "change" the landscape by giving it new 
meaning. But the boundaries of this influence are amor- 
phous; Njaluslod is the entire landscape region rather 
than a specific place.The bus tour is essential in ac- 
tively defining what the linguistic term Njaluslod means. 
By physically circumscribing a specific geographic area, 
that area becomes Njaluslod in the minds of the 

Simultaneously, the physical area determines and 
limits the narrative elements of the saga that are in- 
cluded. Kari's avenging actions in England— the satis- 
f/ing conclusion to the saga— are not mentioned, be- 
cause they cannot be demonstrated through reference 
to the local landscape. Conversely, a rather minor char- 
acter, the uncle of Njal's illegitimate son,'^ is given full 
airing because his farm is still in existence today, in- 
cluding, as is appropriate for a Viking Age farm, escape 
tunnels. Through the agency of the Saga Centre, the 
inter-relatedness of the saga and the landscape is fur- 
ther reinforced and mutually developed, such that the 
one defines the other. The understanding of what Njal's 
Saga is and what it means has, therefore, been trans- 
formed through the Saga Centre's existence. Because 
Icelanders do not consider the sagas stale literary texts, 
but rather an integral part of their daily lives, such an 
evolution of its purpose and meaning to fit current 
needs is not beyond their expectations. 

Saga Bus Tours 

The flexible relationship between the saga and the 
physical landscape allows for the content of the tour, 
and therefore the amount of the saga discussed, to be 
determined on a case-by-case basis as appropriate, 
depending on the audience. For foreigners, the bus 
tour is shorter, and includes fewer sites. Usually, the 
foreigner tours take approximately two hours and in- 
clude about five stops. In comparison, the Icelandic 
tours take at least three hours, and include seven or 
eight stops. The number, duration, and choice of stop 
is somewhat dependent on the weather and the size 
and interest of the group; but the two basic tours 
begin in much the same way, by heading west from 
the Saga Centre along the main paved road. 

The first stop is the farm of Hof, with a view of the 
farm Vollur, where Njal's Saga begins. This is located 
about fifteen minutes up the road from the Saga Centre, 
in a rather sparsely populated plain that is far less fer- 
tile than it was 1 ,000 years ago (Fig. 88). Hof was where 
the family that caused much hardship for Cunnar and 
Njal lived, and the eldest son on this farm started the 
fight that eventually led to Njal's being burned alive 
inside his home. There is no farm there today, though a 
herd of Icelandic horses occupies one fenced in por- 
tion. Usually, the guide will use this stop to introduce 
the main characters and will read the opening few para- 
graphs plus a few other appropriate selections, as the 
group gathers around him. The guide will normally point 
to the locations of two other farms that are mentioned 
in the saga and that can be seen in clear weather from 
Hof, though there are no old buildings at any of these 
places today. Within the framework of the saga narra- 
tive, they are not mentioned until later in the story, 
which may be one reason the guide does not read 
particular passages about these farms, or it may be be- 
cause it is somewhat unclear for the visitor exactly 
where the farms stood. One of these two farms, 
Kirkju-baer, was the farm that Cunnar's wife had 
one of her slaves break into as retribution for an 
insult the farmer levied at Gunnar, which